Between 1753 and 1914 kites constituted objects of scientific interest in different branches of physics. First, as instruments in experiments on the nature of electricity. Then, still in the 1750s, we find theoretical models of the flight of kites. In the late 19th century technologically sophisticated kites were used for aerological measurements. Finally, at the turn of the past century kites served early aeronautical researchers as scale models of wings. In each of these cases a rise and a fall can be seen: kites were reasonably successful in various applications, but they could not produce sufficiently interesting results to stand the competition of more efficient alternatives.
John J. RocheThe Mathematics of Measurement. A Critical History (London: The Athlone Press1998) pp. 163–187 and John L. Heilbron Electricity in the 17th and 18th Centuries (Mineola NY: Dover Publications Inc. 1999) pp. 449–489.
See for example: Giambattista BeccariaA Treatise upon Artificial Electricity (London: J. Nourse1776) pp. 461–462; Pierre Bertholon De L’electricité des Météores (Paris: 1787) pp. 32–66; and Claude Veau-Delaunay Manuel de L’electricité (Paris: 1809) pp. 185–186.
Donald R. WhitnahA History of the United States Weather Bureau (Urbana: University of Illinois Press1961); William Henry Dines William Napier Shaw The Free Atmosphere in the Region of the British Isles (London: Darling & Son 1909); and Richard Assmann Das Königlich Preussische Aeronautische Observatorium (Lindenberg Braunschweig: F. Vieweg & Sohn 1915).
Sjoerd D. Zwart“Scale Modelling in Engineering: Froude’s Case,” in Philosophy of Technology(cit. note 51) pp. 759–798 p. 764; Walter G. Vincenti What Engineers Know and How They Know it. Analytical Studies from Aeronautical History (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press 1990) pp. 138–139; and John D. Anderson A History of Aerodynamics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1997) pp. 126–130.