By Dan Beard
In a New York newspaper in October, 1894, there appeared an article
describing Professor Clayton's experiment, and showing how he sent up a series
of kites, all attached by short lines to one kite string. The kites were
tailless, bowed, diamond-shaped; kites which the writer called "Malay
kites." The only Malay kites that the author of this book ever saw were at
the World's Fair at Chicago, and in the collection of Mr. Chase, the artist.
These kites differed from the Holland kites and the Eddy kites in the fact
that they possessed two cross sticks, one straight one and one a bow over the,
straight stick. The Malay kite is said to fly without a tail, like most of its
In the last edition of the "American Boy's Handy Book" the
diamond-bowed tailless kite is described, and there called a Holland kite by the
gentleman who sent in the description to the author in 1883, long before it
burst into popularity under the name of the Malay kite.
Part of the Celebration.
During the Columbian parade in New York City these kites were used to help
celebrate. As on all occasions of the kind where large bodies parade, there
"came a long wait, the tedium being only occasionally relieved by the
frantic efforts of the policemen to drive the crowd back by leaning against the
foremost and pushing desperately, but generally unavailingly.
"Then there came another break in the monotony. Gilbert T. Woglom, the
well-known experimenter with airplanes actually tailless kites-sent up six
gaudily colored fliers from the Judson Memorial Tower, south of the arch. When
they were so high that they were almost invisible a large American flag was
attached to the kite line and raised far into the air, until it was over a
thousand feet above the earth. There it fluttered grandly, outlined sharply
against the unclouded beauty of the Venetian sky that glorified the city's
holiday, until the celebration was ended."
This was an interesting sight, but not new, as Captain Jack Walker, of the
Nereus Club, used to do the same thing during the Fourth of July Regattas of the
club on Flushing Bay. The captain's kite line was attached to the top of the
flag-pole on the club-house. An illustrated account of this experiment appeared
in the St. Nicholas Magazine several years ago.
How to Make the Tailless Kite.
Mr. Eddy had one convex kite in his collection at Blue Hill last summer,
which he called the Beard Kite. Mr. Beard has given to kite-fliers (in The
American Boy's Handy Book) the earliest working drawings of a tailless kite
which the Editor has yet found. -Aeronautical Annual, 1896.
The vital difference between this and the old-fashioned diamond kite consists
in using instead of the cross stick, a bow, as may be seen in the accompanying
diagram. The sketch also shows bow the belly-band is attached and its
proportion, the latter being taken from a kite made in Rochester, which flew
very satisfactorily. The center stick or spine is four feet long, the cross
stick, of ash, or hickory, is three feet long.
Mr. Woglom began his experiments with this sort of a kit, in 1894, and he now
keeps a regular "stable" of kites of all sizes. But he does not call
them kites, he calls them airplanes, and he has sent his airplanes 5,590 feet
into the sky--that is, the top kite was three hundred and ten feet more than a
mile above the earth.