Over the last 11,000 years, kites have been used for recreation, scientific research, photography, human flight, power generation, aerodynamics and for all sorts of military applications. They’ve even been used underwater to harvest renewable energy from water flow. Over the last thirty years or so, and thanks to developments in materials and design, kites have been getting bigger and bigger, and when it comes to the world’s largest kite, the runners and riders are true high flyers!
It’s believed the first kites were invented somewhere in Asia though there’s no specific record of where, or even when the first kite flew. The oldest depiction comes from an Indonesian cave painting around 11,000 years ago. The first kites of which we’d recognise today – with silk sails and a light bamboo frame – come from China around 500 BC.
A thousand years later, paper kites were flown and were being used to deliver messages, as well as for measuring distances (especially over rivers), and performing scientific wind experiments. Some were fitted with whistles so they made sounds while in the air.
Kites made their way to India and throughout Polynesia, but didn’t arrive in Europe until the thirteenth or fourteenth centuries, most likely from traders returning from the Far East along the Silk Road.
The Wright Brothers used kites to help develop their famous aeroplane, while the years between 1860 and 1910 in Europe were known as ‘the golden age of kiting’. Today kites are mostly used for fun but the kite size world record is a hotly contested race! Find out who soars above the rest!
Measuring the Biggest Kite in the World
While the world’s biggest kite is a remarkable feat of engineering, measuring their true size can’t be simply defined.
Some experts believe the qualifying area is the projected area of the kite while inflated, rather than the stretched-out dimensions. Others have suggested that the biggest kites aren’t really kites at all, given the fact they have teams of people acting as stabilisers on the ground. Our criteria is based on the stretched out area.
The EU Flag
To celebrate Europe Day in 2016, a group of Lithuanian hang-gliders flew an 850 square metre kite in the shape of the EU flag in the Donetsk Oblast region of eastern Ukraine. The kite weighed sixty kilograms and was flown at a height of 100 metres.
One of the original holders of the kite size world record was designed by a team led by legendary kite designer Peter Lynn. The Megabite is a ram-air inflated kite measuring 933 square metres, and was flown off a single line with just two steering lines to help it manoeuvre in unstable winds. It took 350 hours to build and used over 18,000 metres of fabric.
The Kuwait Flag
In February 2005, Abdulrahman and Faris Al Farsi of the Al Farsi Kite Team flew a kite with an image of the Kuwaiti flag measuring 1,050 square metres. It was flown at the Kuwait Hala Festival in February 2005 and for a short time was the world’s largest kite.
Another Peter Lynn kite, The Hope is a 1,250 square metre inflated kite and was first flown on the beach at Berck-sur-Mer in France in 2018 by the Al Farsi Kite Team.
The Al Madj
The world’s biggest kite ever is called the Al Madj kite (translated as the Glory kite). It was the brainchild of Qatari poet Husain al Khayarin who wanted to do something remarkable for his country. The colossal kite was made in the colours of the Qatari flag and features the image of HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Emir of the gulf state. The kite measured 2,673 square metres and was tested in China before being flown in Qatar in December 2018.
The Longest Kite in the World
Can the world’s longest kite be considered the biggest kite in the world? It doesn’t compare in terms of square metres but its length is truly staggering.
At the 2015 International Kite Flying Festival in the skies above Chongqing City in China, a 6,000 metre dragon kite took flight.
Six. Thousand. Metres.
The kite consisted of 2,000 pieces, each one printed with the Chinese symbol for ‘dream’, and it took around eight hours to get the entire kite airborne.
So those were the kite size world record holders including the largest kite in the world. Though it’s fair to say it’s unlikely you’ll be seeing these awesome aerial acrobats in the park on a weekend afternoon!