A kite is an object which is designed to fly on a tether while being handled by a human operator. Most kites have three main components: the body of the kite itself, a harness, and a tether. Numerous styles of kites are flown all over the world recreationally, competitively, and in sports; many cultures have a large kite flying component, especially in Asia and the Middle East. Kites are readily obtainable from toy stores and sports suppliers, and some people also enjoy making their own.
Kites appears to have originated in China; written descriptions and paintings of kites date back to around 200 BCE. Evidence suggests that kites spread across China into other parts of Asia and finally into the Middle East, and by the medieval era, kites were very popular toys for Europeans. Kites have also been historically used as tools for weather observation and other studies of the natural world.
A kite is heavier than air, but it has a design that is supposed to promote wind resistance. When the kite is launched, air pressure builds up under the kite, causing it to lift; as winds and air pressure change, the kite moves through the sky. Many kites have yokes or multiple lines so that they can be more easily controlled, although the classic design includes one line which the user can reel in or pay out as needed.
The framework of a kite is usually made from a lightweight material; traditionally this would have been wood, although plastic and light metals are used on modern kites. Paper, fabric, or plastic sheeting is stretched over the framework of a kite, turning it into a sort of giant wing. Some common kite styles include box kites, which look like two open-ended boxes attached to each other, diamond kites, and lozenge kites. Several producers manufacture very fancy kites with special design features to keep them in the air longer.
In addition to basic kites, people can also use sport kites, kites which are designed with a high degree of controllability so that they can perform stunts and aerial acrobatics. These stunt kites are often used in competition, sometimes in formation with other kites as a team. For sports like kite surfing and kite buggying, people use power kites, extremely large kites which are designed to generate a great deal of pull for the user. Hang gliders and paragliders also refer to their gear as a “kite,” since their equipment works in the same way as an ordinary child's kite.