Wilbur Wright to Octave Chanute

Dayton, May 6, 1905

Your interesting letters of April 28 and May 2nd have been received, also the various clippings. I note that the newspaper report of the Montgomery flight of Apr. 29 at Santa Clara states that the machine rose to a height estimated at between 2,000 and 4,000 ft. and that the ascent and descent covered 7 minutes altogether. The picture shows a machine resembling that of Prof. Langley. I am inclined to suspect that the gliding angle is nearer 12º than 8º, but the future will show whether this estimate is correct.

The article of Archdeacon seems to us to throw more light on French character than upon the science of flying. The footnote referring to the time when you volunteered to defray the expense of printing the Goupil paper is little and contemptible. It displays gratitude for your kindness in a truly French manner. One of the reasons which actuated us in keeping secret the construction of our power flyer was to give the French ample time to finish and test any discoveries of the secrets of flying which any Frenchman might possess, and thus shut them off afterward from setting up a claim that everything in our machine was already known in France. Perhaps it is lucky for us that Goupil has placed himself on record in his great work published in 1904. By waiting we have permitted the French to show both by their writings and by their experiments how little was known of the art of flying in that country in 1904 5. 1 suspect that it will come out later that Goupil is now at Chalais feverishly engaged in an attempt to forestall the Americans. If so, we prefer that his machine should be tried before he has opportunity to study our machine.

The last sentence of Capt. Ferber's letter is a pretty broad hint that in France the Americans are not believed upon their mere word. We regard all such intimations with great amusement and satisfaction. They present the best possible proof of the low state of the art in France at this time, since even the gliding stories are considered too wonderful to be true. Capt. Ferber himself seems to be a very honorable man and his conduct has been above criticism. No doubt his own acceptance of the truth of the stories has exposed him to the laughter of skeptical friends. If he finds himself hard pressed, he is at liberty to say for us that a prize sufficient in magnitude to compensate for the disclosure of the secrets of flying would be snatched up before Christmas.

The German article is composed largely of extracts from a pamphlet of Herr Kress setting forth the troubles he has met in obtaining funds for prosecuting his experiments. It is a bitter attack upon his fellow countrymen. He envies the wealth of the Americans, which has enabled them to achieve success.

Octave Chanute to Wilbur Wright, May10, 1905