Prof. Langley has issued the following statement:
To the Press:
The present experiments being made in mechanical flight have been carried on partly with funds provided by the Board of Ordnance and Fortifications, and partly from private sources, and from a special endowment of the Smithsonian Institution. The experiments are carried on with the approval of the board of regents of the Smithsonian Institution. The public's interest in them may lead to an unfounded expectation as to their immediate results without an explanation, which is here briefly given.
These trials, with some already conducted with steam driven flying machines, are believed to be the first in the history of invention where bodies far heavier than the air itself have been sustained in the air for more than a few seconds by purely mechanical means. In my previous trials success has only been reached after initial failures, which alone have taught the way to it, and I know no reason why prospective trials should be an exception. It is possible, rather than probable, that it may be otherwise now, but judging from the light of past experience it is to be regretted that the enforced publicity which has been given to these initial experiments which are essentially experiments, and nothing else a may lead to quite unfounded expectations.
It is the practice of all scientific men, indeed, of all prudent men, not to make public the results of their work till these are certain. This consideration, and no desire to withhold from the public matters in which the public is interested, has dictated the policy thus far pursued here. The fullest publicity consistent with the national interest (since these recent experience have for their object the development of a machine for war purposes) will be given to this work when it reaches a stage which warrants publication.
S. P. Langley
Smithsonian Institution, August 19.
Originally appeared in Scientific American, 89, August 29, 1903, p. 151.