Box kite

Diagram of a box kite
Hargrave (seated) and Swain demonstrate the Hargrave box kite, November 1894. Note the drum-tight skin, a consequence of the unique tensioning system devised by Hargrave. A collapsed kite, rolled up for transport, lies on the ground.

A box kite is a high-performance kite, noted for developing relatively high lift; it is a type within the family of cellular kites. The typical design has four parallel struts. The box is made rigid with diagonal crossed struts. There are two sails, or ribbons, whose width is about a quarter of the length of the box. The ribbons wrap around the ends of the box, leaving the ends and middle of the kite open. In flight, one strut is the bottom, and the bridle is tied between the top and bottom of this strut. The dihedrals of the sails help stability.

The box kite was invented by the Australian Lawrence Hargrave in 1893 as part of his attempt to develop a manned flying machine.[1] Hargrave linked several of his box kites (Hargrave cells) together, creating sufficient lift for him to fly some 16 ft (4.9 m) off the ground.[2] A winged variant of this kite is known as the Cody kite following its development by Samuel Cody as a platform for military observation during the Second Boer War. Military uses also involved a kite/radio transmitter combination issued to pilots during World War II for use in liferafts.[3]

Large box kites are constructed as cellular kites. Rather than one box, there are many, each with its own set of sails.

Most of the altitude records for kite flying are held by large box kites, with Dacron sails, flown with Spectra cable. Before Dacron, Spectra and Kevlar were available, high performance box kites used oiled silk, linen or hemp sails, and were flown with steel cable. Silk, linen and hemp were used because they could be spun finer than cotton and stretched relatively little when wet. Steel had the highest available strength for its weight.

See also


  1. ^ "The Powerhouse Museum". 
  2. ^ Hudson Shaw, W. and Ruhen, O. (1977) Lawrence Hargrave: Explorer, Inventor and Aviation Experimenter Sydney : Cassell Australia.
  3. ^ Louis Meulstee; G & J Bloom (2002-10), The Gibson Girl Transmitter and Kite, The Kite Society of Great Britain, pp. 19–23, 

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Box kite — A kite, invented by Lawrence Hargrave, of Sydney, Australia, which consist of two light rectangular boxes, or cells open on two sides, and fastened together horizontally. Called also {Hargrave kite}, or {cellular kite}. [Webster 1913 Suppl.] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • box kite — n. a kite with an oblong, box shaped framework, open at the ends and along the middle …   English World dictionary

  • box kite — noun a kite shaped like a box open at both ends • Hypernyms: ↑kite * * * noun : a kite without a tail much used formerly in meteorology and consisting of two or more open ended connected boxes called also cellular kite, Hargrave kite, tetrahedral …   Useful english dictionary

  • box kite — a tailless kite consisting of two or more light, box shaped frames joined together, covered except at the ends and around the middle. [1895 1900] * * * …   Universalium

  • box kite — noun a tailless kite in the form of a long box open at each end …   English new terms dictionary

  • box kite — /ˈbɒks kaɪt/ (say boks kuyt) noun a kite consisting of a light, box shaped frame, covered except on the ends and a space along the middle …   Australian English dictionary

  • box kite — noun Date: 1897 a tailless kite consisting of two or more open ended connected boxes …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Hargrave box kite —        kite designed, built, and flown by the aeronautical pioneer Lawrence Hargrave (Hargrave, Lawrence) in the 1890s.       Hargrave began his experiments with kites in 1893. His goal was to build a kite so efficient that it would advance into… …   Universalium

  • Box tail — (A[ e]ronautics) In a flying machine, a tail or rudder, usually fixed, resembling a box kite. [Webster 1913 Suppl.] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • box tail — box tail, a tail or rudder used on certain early aircraft and shaped somewhat like a box kite …   Useful english dictionary

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