Wilbur Wright to Octave Chanute

Dayton, November 26, 1900

Your very kind letter of 23 inst. received. Am glad to learn that you are preparing an article for Cassier's Magazine, and am sure that it will be of value to all who are interested in aeronautical matters.

It is not our intention to make a close secret of our machine, but at the same time, inasmuch as we have not yet had opportunity to test the full possibilities of our methods, we wish to be the first to give them such test. We will gladly give you for your own information anything you may wish to know, but for the present would not wish any publication in detail of the methods of operation or construction of the machine.

You are free to use any of the following facts which you may deem of sufficient value to warrant publication.

Our machine was of the double-deck pattern and exposed an area of 177 sq.. ft. complete, including a rudder of 12 sq.. ft. The position of the operator was horizontal: he lying on top of the lower plane, head to the front and face down. We found the position far more comfortable than hanging by the arms; the action of the machine was much steadier; and landing was effected in the soft sand, at speeds of twenty to thirty miles per hour, without any injury whatever to operator, or breakage of the machine. We consider the horizontal position feasible and a decided success where landing can be effected on sand or smooth grass. Our calculations indicate a head resistance at twenty miles per hour of less than one pound for the body of the operator in the horizontal position.

The machine had neither horizontal nor vertical tail. Longitudinal balancing and steering were effected by means of a horizontal rudder projecting in front of the planes. Lateral balancing and right and left steering were obtained by increasing the inclination of the wings at one end and decreasing their inclination at the other. The short time at our disposal for practice prevented as thorough tests of these features as we desired, but the results obtained were very favorable and experiments will be continued along the same line next year.

The head resistance of the machine when carrying a total load of fifty-two lbs. was nine pounds, in a wind of twenty miles per hour. Allowing two and one half pounds, or one twentieth of the weight lifted, for drift of surfaces, the drift due to framing, skin friction, &c., was only six and one half pounds. We embedded all ribs and framing in cloth except the upright standards. The cloth was put on bias, thus greatly adding to the strength of the construction. If the article is to be illustrated we can furnish photograph of machine if you consider it of sufficient importance to need illustration.

It would give us very great pleasure if you should at any time find it convenient to stop off at Dayton when in this part of the country. We left our large machine at Kitty Hawk, but have a small kite model which shows its principle, which we would gladly show you.

We have formulated a law as to the angle of incidence which if correct will be of value. It is one of many points on which we would be glad to have your opinion should we meet.

Chanute's response, November 29, 1900