Wilbur Wright to Octave Chanute

Dayton, May 28, 1905

Your letters of May 6th1 & May 23rd have been received. I returned a few days ago from a week's trip to Michigan to attend the General Conference of the church in which my father is a bishop. It was the decisive battle in the contest of which you have heretofore heard us speak. We won a complete victory; turned every one of the rascals out of office, and put friends of my father in their places.2 It will be a relief to have that matter off my mind hereafter.

Your remarks on the attitude of the German patent office agree with what we have heard elsewhere on the same subject. If we have further trouble we will try to find some way to meet the existing prejudice.

The Montgomery experiments are the most wonderful exhibitions of daring since the first parachute descent of Garnerin. I sometimes wonder whether the real danger has been properly appreciated.

We stand ready to furnish a practical machine for use in war at once, that is, a machine capable of carrying two men and fuel for a fifty mile trip. We are only waiting to complete arrangements with some government. The American government has apparently decided to permit foreign governments to take the lead in utilizing our invention for war purposes. We greatly regret this attitude of our own country, but seeing no way to remedy it, we have made a formal proposition to the British Government and expect to have a conference with one of its representatives, at Dayton, very soon. We think the prospect favorable.

We have felt serious misgivings regarding the advisability of any further experiments prior to reaching an understanding with some government. At present our machine is a complete secret, but it may not remain so if we attempt further experiments, like those of last year. We have the materials ready so that we could be ready to fly in two or three weeks if we wished to do so.

1 This is a mistake for May 10.

2 A reference to the conclusion of the United Brethren Church controversy in which Bishop Wright had been involved intermittently since 1902. (See n. 9, Wilbur Wright to Octave Chanute, July 17, 1902.) The following notation appears at the end of Bishop Wright's Diary for 1905: "The delegates' election showed a two thirds majority for the right, and they stood firm in Gen. Conference. With May 20th my long service as a bishop ended. I was editor of the Telescope, 1869 1877, bishop, 1877 1881 and 1885 1905, thirty two years a general officer of the church." For a full account of the Bishop's career, see "Milton Wright," in Koontz, Paul R., and Roush, Walter E.: The Bishops, Church of the United Brethren in Christ (Dayton, 1950), vol. 2, pp. 60 74.

Octave Chanute to Wilbur Wright, May 30, 1905