Dayton, March 29, 1904
Your letter of 19th inst. is read with interest. My calculations based on a comparison of the #6 and #7 give Santos Dumont a speed in still air of between 24 and 25 miles an hour. There will be a loss in starting, landing, and making turns, but nevertheless with everything working perfectly he ought to be able to make the St. Louis course at an average speed of 18 3/4 miles, when the wind does not exceed 8 miles an hour. I think 20 miles would have been beyond his limit about nine times out of ten, unless the conditions at St. Louis prove superior to those at Paris. The changes in the rules do not affect us one way or the other but we approve of them because we would like to see someone knock down that prize.
Have you noticed in Moedebeck's German paper that Mr. Herring is setting up a claim to be an independent discoverer of gliding simultaneously with Lilienthal, and the pioneer in everything that has been or will yet be discovered in flying? He is an amusing "cuss."
We are about ready to commence setting up our new machine. We have arranged for an experimental station about 8 miles east of Dayton1 and so will not go to Kitty Hawk this spring. This reminds me that you once spoke of desiring to exhibit your multiple wing and oscillating wing machines at St. Louis. I had intended to see to having them completely packed before we left camp last fall, but our hurried departure prevented. We have been so busy since that the matter has escaped our minds. Shall we arrange to have them sent to St. Louis at once?
I enclose a fake story which a friend of our machinist, Mr. Taylor, clipped from a Nebraska paper and sent to him. It seems to have started on the Pacific coast and made its way eastward. Not all fakes are so harmless. The N.Y. Independent some time ago published what purported to be an original article entitled "The Experiments of a Flying Man, by Wilbur Wright." It consisted of about four pages of verbatim extracts from my W.S.E. addresses and a summary of newspaper reports concerning our 1903 experiments. It turned out to be the work of a rascal named Willey, of Baltimore, who pretended to have been authorized by me to supply the article. The Independent apologized in a subsequent number for this and one other fake article by ex Minister to Colombia Beaupre. It also published a fake article which Dr. Herran, the Colombian minister to the U.S., repudiated, but he has not obtained a public apology. All were the work of this Willey.
1 The site of the flying field was a pasture of about ninety acres' area. It was called Huffman Prairie after its owner, Torrence Huffman, a Dayton bank president. It was occasionally referred to as Simms, after Simms Station, the nearest interurban trolley stop. The Dayton Springfield interurban tracks ran along one side of the field. There is a good description of the terrain in Wilbur Wright to Octave Chanute, June 21, 1904. See Plate 81.
Octave Chanute to Wilbur Wright, March 30, 1904