Octave Chanute to Wilbur Wright

Chicago, December 26, 1904

I have yours of 20th, and I congratulate you heartily upon the successful results of your improvements and the safe progress that you have made in controlling your machine. I wish you still more success and a happy New Year. I trust that it will not pass without bringing you a material reward. Please convey my congratulations to your brother, to your father, and to your sister.

I have now a curiosity to know what are your final conclusions as to the power actually required for artificial flight, and whether you hope to reduce it. I am under the impression that birds use less power than you have found necessary.

I have been thinking it not unlikely that you should be called upon to go to Japan. It could well afford to give you and your brother $100,000 for a few months' work in reconnoitring. Santos-Dumont would preferably be called upon by Russia, as that country follows the French lead.1

Mitt.? Have you got my January number of Moedebeck's Ill. Aero. You returned the February number, but I do not find the January issue.

1 This is a reference to the Russo-Japanese war which had begun officially on February 10, 1904, after the breaking off of negotiations five days earlier. Unlikely as it now seems, Chanute was apparently at least mildly serious in thinking that the belligerents would have made use of aerial weapons if they had been available to them. Though of course nothing came of the idea, it probably appealed to Chanute as offering a practical test of the relative merits of heavier-than air versus lighter than air operations, for Santos, whose power machine did not make its appearance for another fifteen months, would have had to enter the contest with his dirigible. To the Wrights the suggestion must have seemed preposterous.

Wilbur Wright to Octave Chanute, January 1, 1905