We reached home last Thursday after a very good trip1 of 15 days from Rome. We are all improved in health since leaving home. I have gained about a dozen pounds in weight. Orville is in splendid general health and is getting to use his leg quite well again. He had no trouble in walking about the deck of the steamship without a cane. My sister is also much better than when she finished her 1908 season of nursing. We had a very nice time abroad, but it is a pleasure to be back home again.
We are very busy at work on the machine we will use at Ft. Myer. The old one was so badly broken up that we will make all but the motor and transmission new. It is probable that we will reduce the area a trifle.
On our way home we stopped a couple of days in London, and met a great number of your friends who wished to be remembered to you. The English are fitting up a very nice flying ground at Sheppey Island near the mouth of the Thames, and we have taken orders for about a half dozen machines which are being constructed for us by Short Brothers. We have had opportunities to close out our English business but have preferred to hold on to it for the present. We sold in France and Germany, and will probably close a contract for Italy very soon. After sailing we learned that Lt. Calderara at Rome had met with an accident but we have no reliable information regarding it as yet. I left him with greater misgivings than my other pupils, because he was a cigarette fiend, and was being very badly spoiled by the attention and flattery he was receiving. De Lambert and Tissandier were splendid fellows in every respect and very trustworthy. I hope you are in good health and that we shall see each other soon.
1 The flights by Wilbur Wright at Centocelle began on April 15. Of a total of forty two flights, twenty three were training flights with Lieutenant Mario Calderara, of the Italian navy, one with Lieutenant Umberto Savoia, and one with Captain Castagneris Guido. The remaining flights were made with various passengers who desired to be taken up. Several flights were made without the use of the drop weight derrick and five without the derrick or starting rail.
It was at Centocelle also that Wilbur Wright permitted a "bioscope" cameraman to accompany him and photograph the surrounding countryside, thus producing the first motion pictures ever taken from an aeroplane in flight.
Octave Chanute to Wilbur Wright, May 19, 1909