Wilbur Wright to Octave Chanute

Dayton, July 1, 1901

Yours of 29th ult. from Chuckey City rec'd. We regret that you are disappointed in some of the mechanical details of your new machine, especially as it threatens to interfere with a proper test of the principles involved in its construction. It is possible that actual trial will prove the defects less serious than they at first appear.

As to Mr. Huffaker's trip to Kitty Hawk I do not feel competent to advise you, as you alone can judge whether the probable advantage would justify the expense entailed. If he comes we will give such assistance as we can in strengthening weak points and rendering it possible to test the operation of the machine. I hardly know a safer place for testing a machine of whose structural strength you are doubtful. We have a particular interest in one feature, viz., varying the curvature of the surfaces. We ourselves several years ago gave some study to this point. Our idea was that inasmuch as the center of pressure travels farther forward on a plane than a curved surface, it would be possible to keep the center of pressure at a given point by varying the curvature. Our plan was to run an axle across the aerocurve laterally and connect it with the ends of the fore-and-aft ribs in such a way that twisting the axle would draw the ends together and thus increase the curvature; the effect of which would be to move the centre of pressure backward. We gave it up because it made the sustaining capacity greatest at high speeds and least at low speeds. If you have succeeded in overcoming this objection and at the same time rendered the action automatic I should consider that the plan is one of considerable promise.

As to Mr. Spratt ­ we could not permit you to bear the expense of his trip merely to assist us; if however you wish to get a line on his capacity and aptitude and give him a little experience with a view to utilizing him in your own work later, we will be very glad to have him with us, as we would then feel that you were receiving at least some return for the money expended. We would be very glad to have the assistance of both these men but do not feel that we have a right to ask you to bear the expense entailed, unless you feel that you yourself are getting your money's worth.

I have thought that if you decide to send Mr. Huffaker, he would probably appreciate a personal invitation from us, and accordingly enclose a few lines to him which you may forward if you think best. You will see from it what equipment we consider necessary.

We are expecting to leave Dayton July 8th and be ready to begin gliding about August 1st.

If your machine can be readily folded into small space it will not be necessary to bring cover or tent for it as we will have some spare room.

Chanute's response, July 3, 1901