Octave Chanute to Wilbur Wright

Chicago, March 30, 1904

Did you get a copy of the Illustrierte Aeronautische Mitteilungen (Moedebeck's paper) for March 1904? It contains an article which, from the rough rendering I have received verbally, throws a side light upon the claim of Mr. Herring to obtain an interest in your invention. If you have not the paper, I will get the article translated.1 The same paper contains a 4 page article upon your achievement, and gives a photograph and a diagram, taken from New York Herald, 1/1/04, which purports to show your machine. This shows a horizontal propeller under the front of the apparatus. Is this correct?

I mailed you yesterday some clippings which show Maxim's merry go round. Please return them to me after you have duly smiled.

1 The article " 'Lilienthal in America,' " Illustrierte Aeronautische Mitteilungen, Mar. 1904, pp. 101 102 asserted that Augustus M. Herring was the inventor of the adjustable forward rudder as a means .of regulating the flying angle of an aero plane, and implied that the Wrights had borrowed this device from him and failed to acknowledge their debt. As evidence, it presented a photograph, copyrighted by Herring in the United States in 1894, showing a glider (not in flight) of more or less the Lilienthal type, with small horizontal surfaces to the right and left of the longitudinal axis of the machine and in front of the main supporting surfaces. (Goupil had included similar surfaces in drawings published in La Locomotion Aerienne in 1884.) Herring held no patent on the device he was reported to have invented, and the copyright on the photograph of course conferred no protection on the objects pictured. Actually, as the Wrights claimed novelty for their horizontal rudder only within the meaning of the constructions and combinations specified in their patent, the contention of the article was gratuitous. (Cf. Wilbur Wright to Chanute, Jan. 8, 1904; see also, Wilbur Wright to Chanute, Apr. 10, 1904.)

Octave Chanute to Wilbur Wright, April 9, 1904