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90/128 Reproduction box kite, Type A, wood / canvas, designed by Lawrence Hargrave 1894, made by Lionel Pitt, New South Wales, Australia, 1987. Click to enlarge.

Hargrave box kite 'Type A'

This reproduction of a Hargrave box kite was made for the 'Recollections' exhibition at the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, which holds the largest collection of material internationally of the aviation pioneer, Lawrence Hargrave. While no single individual can be attributed to the invention of the aeroplane, Hargrave belonged to an elite body of scientists and researchers (along with Octave Chanute, Otto Lilienthal and Percy Sinclair Pilcher) whose experiments and inventions paved the …


Object No.


Object Statement

Reproduction box kite, Type A, wood / canvas, designed by Lawrence Hargrave 1894, made by Lionel Pitt, New South Wales, Australia, 1987

Physical Description

Reproduction box kite, Type A, wood / canvas, designed by Lawrence Hargrave 1894, made by Lionel Pitt, New South Wales, Australia, 1987

Two cell box kite made of stained oregon timber and covered with light calico.

Length of cell: 584mm
Breadth of cell: 1524mm
Depth of cell: 571mm
Distance between the cells: 635mm
Distance from the forward end of the forward cell to the point of attachment of the kite line: 483mm



572 mm


1524 mm


1803 mm



This reproduction box kite was designed by Lawrence Hargrave at Stanwell Park, New South Wales, Australia in 1894 and made by the Museum's model maker, Lionel Pitt in 1987.

The kite has been constructed from Douglas fir for the booms, cross-braces, vertical posts and battens (in Hargrave's original kites American redwood was used) and the cells are covered in unbleached calico which has been machine stitched. The timber components of the kite have been finished using a matt clear varnish.

The model was built to the plans and details given in Hargrave's report titled 'Paper on Aeronautical Work' which he delivered to the Royal Society of New South Wales on June 5, 1895.

This reproduced kite was made by Lionel Pitt along with Kites B, D, E and the sling seat between September and December 1987 so that it could be displayed in the new 1988 West Building of the Powerhouse Museum.



This box kite is a reproduction of 'Type A' used by Lawrence Hargrave in his famous man-lifting flight experiment conducted at Stanwell Park on November 12, 1894. This experiment involved the use of four box kites with flat surfaces (A, B, D and E), which were attached to a single rope. Kite A was the uppermost one in the experiment, while the lowest one was Kite E. Hargrave's part-time caretaker, James Swain, assisted in the experiment. His job was to hold the kites, as well as Hargrave, in the event that he might become airborne. Swain did this by using a block and tackle anchored to the beach by two bags of sand. The tackle was attached to the lowest of the series of four kites and a spring balance was attached to the sandbag end.

The experiment proved successful. The four kites lifted a weight of 208 lb a distance of 16 feet from the ground in a 21 mph wind. Hargrave also realised that it was a safe and controlled means of making an ascent using artificial flight technology.

This particular reproduction kite was also tested by its maker, Mr Lionel Pitt, at Kendall Beach, Kiama in early January 1988. The kite was reported to have flown superbly in a 15 knot wind on a 160 foot cord and it reached a maximum altitude of 150 feet. The kite flew for 20 minutes and gave evidence of very high lifting ability coupled with horizontal resistance. The kite was also used in a re-enactment of Hargrave's 1894 man-lifting experiment at Bald Hill, Stanwell Park on January 17, 1988 at 6.00pm. However, a simple light child's swing seat was used instead of the one originally employed by Hargrave (see 90/132). All four kites were strung up to 200 feet, with the top kite flying steadily and the three lower ones oscillating from side to side. Lionel Pitt sat in the sling seat during the experiment, and although the weight was taken, no real lift occurred. The experiment was curtailed after some concern was shown into structural damage occurring to the cells.


Credit Line

Gift of Lionel Pitt, 1990

Acquisition Date

27 February 1990

Cite this Object


Hargrave box kite 'Type A' 2021, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 27 October 2021, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Hargrave box kite 'Type A' |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=27 October 2021 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}