Wilbur Wright to Octave Chanute

Dayton, October 5, 1904

Yours of the 30th September received. The newspapers report that the Aeronautical Congress at St. Louis has been abandoned. It seems that every aeronautical feature of the Exposition has been a failure so far. It seems a real pity, yet as we have done little ourselves for success I do not know that we have any right to blame anyone else. Possibly there would have been more show, if the conditions attached to the various prizes had been less exacting. In the gliding and flying model classes, as well as in the grand competition, the minimum requirement was so severe as to exceed all records of human attainment under similar conditions. The natural tendency was to discourage entries.

I have a very full realization of the difficulty of the task which Mr. Avery has undertaken, which difficulty is greatly increased by the shortness of time at his disposal. Yet men have overcome difficulties before, and I hope that this may be true in this case. In any event my sympathies and best wishes go with him in the undertaking.

I think I mentioned in a former letter that we had made two attempts to circumnavigate the field where our present experiments are being made, but that neither was successful. On the 20th of September we renewed the attempt and on the second trial succeeded. The sky was overcast and a heavy rain separated the two attempts, but the wind was fairly steady and had a velocity of 7 or 8 miles an hour on the ground and about 10 miles at a height of 15 or 20 ft. from the ground. The distance over the ground was about 4,100 ft. and through the air 4,800 ft. About two thirds of the flight was more or less to windward. The wind was blowing almost from the north. Since we have been making longer flights and getting more practice, the machine is becoming much more controllable and now seems very much like our gliders at Kitty Hawk.

Up to the present we have been very fortunate in our relations with newspaper reporters, but intelligence of what we are doing is gradually spreading through the neighborhood and we are fearful that we will soon have to discontinue experiment. If your business will permit you to visit us this year it would be well to come within the next three weeks. As we have decided to keep our experiments strictly secret for the present, we are becoming uneasy about continuing them much longer at our present location. In fact, it is a question whether we are not ready to begin considering what we will do with our baby now that we have it.

Octave Chanute to Wilbur Wright, October 12, 1904