Octave Chanute to Wilbur Wright

Chicago, December 21, 1905

I did not realize that your offer to Ferber covered sales to individuals as well as his government. I believe that the "friend" whose visit is announced is really an agent of the French war department, which sends him as an individual in order to "save its face" if you turn out to be a "bluff." Naturally your first care will be to satisfy him most thoroughly as to the reality of your past performances, and to ascertain what capacities are required in the machine which you are asked to furnish. The latter may terminate negotiations. If he turns out to be the agent of a syndicate, he may fairly be asked for credentials from those who are to pay the money, and to pledge himself to absolute secrecy before any terms are mentioned. An acknowledgment that you are also negotiating with other governments furnishes a good reason for declining to give any syndicate a chance to make a speculation out of your invention.

I think your own frankness and evident good faith will prevent any misunderstanding, but I still adhere to my original belief that the best disposal of your machine would be to have it go to one single government who would keep it secret and thus promote peace, while the others were meeting with numerous accidents in the efforts to rival it.

Octave Chanute to Wilbur Wright, December 23, 1905