Octave Chanute to Wilbur Wright

Chicago, May 17, 1900

I have your very interesting letter of 13th, and am quite in sympathy with your proposal to experiment; especially as I believe like yourself that no financial profit is to be expected from such investigations for a long while to come.

You will find in the Proceedings of the Conference on Aerial Navigation a paper on "Flying devices," by G. C. Taylor, who tested much the same method that you propose, he having used a mast 35 ft. high. See also in same book, of which I enclose a folder, "Learning how to fly," by Duryea, and "A programme for safe experimenting," by Mouillard. You will also find in Progress, &c., an account of de Sanderval's experiments suspended to a rope, pages 158 & 161, and a discussion of various methods, pages 261 & following.

Hargrave experimented with aspiration kites suspended from a rope stretched between two masts, and it would be most interesting to endeavor to repeat the performance with a full-sized machine. You will find the accounts in the Aeronautical Journal for April '98, Oct. '98, and July '99. I send you the issue for April '99, which you can keep, as I have others. There is in the issue for Oct. '98 an article by Prof. Fitzgerald who suggests "Experimental soaring" by raising the machine as a kite, with several guide ropes, which I consider quite feasible.

As for myself, I have always felt that restraining ropes were a complication which not only vitiated the results but might lead to accidents from rotation of apparatus or collision with supports, and I have preferred preliminary learning on a sand hill and trying ambitious feats over water. I send you a report of my gliding experiments which you may not have.

The two most suitable locations for winter experiments which I know of are near San Diego, California, and St. James City (Pine Island), Florida, on account of the steady sea breezes which I have found to blow there. These, however, are deficient in sand hills, and perhaps even better locations can be found on the Atlantic coasts of South Carolina or Georgia.

The accounts of Pilcher's experiments are scanty. They are to be found in Aeronautics, which is now out of print, in the Aeronautical Annual for 1897, page 144, and in several issues of the Aeronautical Journal. Also in newspaper clippings which have not much value.

If you have occasion at any time to be in this city, I shall be glad to have you call on me, and can perhaps better answer the questions that have occurred to you. I intend to make further experiments myself, when my business and means will allow. If you do not expect to come to Chicago soon, I shall be pleased to correspond with you further, and to have a more detailed account of your proposal.

[P.S.] You may find in McClure's Magazine for June an article I have lately written.

Wilbur's response, June 1, 1900