Octave Chanute to Wilbur Wright

Chicago, January 19, 1908

I have your letter of 16th inst. I deem your criticism of the Signal Service advertisement perfectly just, particularly that clause which requires a bond to forfeit a sum equal to the full bid if the machine fails to perform what nobody not even you has yet accomplished. My own judgment is that, in your place, I would either decline to bid at all upon the ground that the conditions imposed are unreasonable or that I would bid (if you are sure you can get the 40 miles an hour every time) a very much larger sum than the twenty five thousand dollars which you mention in your letter.

I suppose that you have seen the Am. Aeronaut. Dienstbach, who seems to have queer conceptions as to confidential letters and communications, has really done a clever piece of detective induction, but I fancy that he has 'missed the main feature that enables you to sail steadily on circular courses. Although not so intended, the article will do you good because of the admission of an opponent that you "can fly when and how you want to."

I was asked by a Chicago newspaper for my opinion of the Farman performance and I enclose the result. I suppose that the Voisin design was based upon a description by Fordyce of the photographs which you showed him of your machine in the air, but that he is no further ahead than you were in 1904. Danger, however, looms up from two communications in the last Aerophile (December). One from Goupil, which is weak, and one from a Mr. Lucien Doudin (don't know about him) who has tumbled to the idea that centrifugal force must be overcome and proposes four methods, while he recommends "shifting the weight." I have believed for the last 18 months that this is what you do, but forbore from asking questions. Let me know if I am wrong ?1

Do you know whether the Signal Service has an appropriation, or will the bids be subject to inane discussion in Congress?

I think myself that it is unfortunate that you did not organize a sustaining company at the beginning and feel that the eventual financial result to you depends upon the unpleasant eventuality of serious accidents to some of your competitors.

1 It is almost incredible that at this late date Chanute, who had actually seen the Wrights make a circling flight in 1904 and was familiar with the construction of the power machines of 1903, 1904, and 1905, should have been so naive concerning the Wrights' method of counteracting skidding due to the centrifugal force when making a turn.

Wilbur Wright to Octave Chanute, January 27, 1908