The kite, which was invented in the fourth century B.C. by the Chinese, had many practical uses. But it wasn’t until the sixth century A.D. that the Chinese put the kites to use as hang gliders, cutting the cord, as it were. The gliders were strong enough to sustain the weight of a man, able to catch the wind and hold an average-sized pilot aloft on the current. The Chinese hang gliders initially were used not for daredevil fun but entertainment of a crueler kind. They were used for the amusement of emperors, who strapped captured enemies and criminals onto the gliders, forcing them to jump off cliffs in terror.
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