Wilbur Wright to Octave Chanute

Dayton, October 19, 1905

Your letter of 16th containing word of your return home has been received. We are glad to know of your daughter's improved health. We are not anticipating an immediate visit from the Britishers as we have had no word from them for several months and do not expect anything until we write or stir them up in some indirect way.1 We would prefer to finish up our experiments for this season before they appear. We have never had any intention of showing the machine in advance of a definite understanding in regard to its purchase. We will give the American government another chance before finally accepting any foreign contract.2

The wet weather of this year has very much interfered with our practice by keeping the ground so wet and soft that we have been entirely prevented from operating many days when the sky was clear. The labor of moving the machine on wheels has been greatly increased, and the overexertion produces quick exhaustion, so that only a few flights can be made at a time. The wet grounds did not permit us to resume experiments till the last week of September, but the next two weeks were so fine that we did more flying than in all our previous flights of three years put together. On the 26th we passed the ten mile mark for the first time with a flight of 17,961 meters in 18 min. and 9 sec. The exhaustion of the gasoline supply ended the flight. On the 29th we raised the record to 19,570 in 19 minutes and 55 sec. Gasoline exhausted again. The can we were using held only one gallon. On the 30th the flight had lasted 17 min. when a bearing in the transmission heated. On Oct. 3rd a larger gasoline can was used and the record raised to 24,535 meters in 25 min. and 5 sec. The same transmission bearing heated again. On the 4th the flight was 33,456 meters in 33 minutes and 17 sec. A hot transmission bearing again ended the flight. We fitted oil cups to the transmission bearings and on the 5th of October made a flight of 38,956 meters in 38 min. and 3 sec. Gasoline exhausted. We had neglected to fill the can full before starting.

Some friends whom we unwisely permitted to witness some of the flights could not keep silent, and on the evening of the 5th the Daily News had an article reporting that we were making sensational flights every day. It was copied in the Cincinnati Post of the next day. Consequently we are doing nothing at present, but before the season closes we wish to go out someday and make an effort to put the record above one hour. If you wish we will try to give you notice in time for you to be present.

1 This was done the same day in a letter to the War Office, London, dated Oct. 19: "Under the date of March lst, 1905, we submitted a proposition to furnish to the War Department a flying machine for scouting purposes. We now write to say that recent flights justify us in offering to so amend the proposition as to make the acceptance of the machine dependent upon a trial flight of at least fifty miles, instead of ten miles as specified in the original offer."

2 The Wrights had written to the Secretary of War, Oct. 9, 1905. The answer to their letter, dated Oct. 16, 1905, (given in Kelly's Miracle at Kitty Hawk, p. 149) was received on October 19. It was apparently received late in the day, after the above letter was written, since no mention of it is made to Chanute. See Wilbur and Orville Wright to the President of the Board of Ordnance and Fortification, War Department, Oct. 19,1905.

Octave Chanute to Wilbur Wright, October 22, 1905