The Chanute - Mouillard Correspondence

April 16, 1890 to May 20, 1897

Being the letters exchanged between Octave Chanute, American engineer, and Louis-Pierre Mouillard, French author and student of bird flight, mainly on the subject of aeronautics.

Translated into English by Eugene Moritz (1878-1946) of New York City and Dr. M. Louise Kraus (1893-1961) of Leudelange, Luxembourg. Edited by Juliette Bevo-Higgins of Pottsville, Pennsylvania.

The work was undertaken at the request of Pearl I. Young of 1262 Lititz Pike, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, who has authorized E. L. Sterne, aeronautical bookseller, of 2949 Balboa Street, San Francisco, California, to sell the only 12 copies available.

Lancaster, Pennsylvania, 1962


These translations of the correspondence between Octave Chanute and Louis-Pierre Mouillard are not intended for highly technical usage. For such a purpose the letter-press copies of Chanute's letters and the original Mouillard replies should be consulted. They are in the manuscript division of the Library of Congress.

Shortly after the death of Chanute in November 1910, his daughters were approached by a member of the French Ligue Nationale Aerienne, who borrowed from them the letters Mouillard had written to their father, on the excuse that the Ligue wished to see that Chanute got due credit for the aid he had given Frenchmen on aeronautics. A list of the letters by date was retained but no copies were made. The letters were not returned as promised.

Only years of effort by French engineers and lawyers produced the return of the letters that are produced in this volume. From the dates kept of the letters listed here as "Missing" and from Chanute's replies it is clear that the retained letters contained details of proposed inventions. Their retention in France was apparently intended to forestall any denial of the ridiculous charges made by a few chauvinistic Frenchmen to the effect that Chanute had made a dupe of Mouillard and stolen his ideas so that an American, not a Frenchman, would be the first to fly. A copy of one of the retained letters dated December 10, 1891 was available from the S. P. Langley correspondence. Chanute had sent him a copy because in it Mouillard gave Chanute permission to share everything with Langley.

Lancaster, Pennsylvania, October 20, 1962 Pearl I. Young

1890 correspondence
1891 correspondence
1892 correspondence
1893 correspondence
1894 correspondence
1895 correspondence
1896 and early 1897 correspondence

Webmaster's note: Simine Short found one of the 12 copies of the Chanute-Mouillard correspondence, and did all of the hard work in scanning and converting the text and figures. Many thanks from all for preserving and making widely available this unique and important contribution to the history of the invention of the airplane!

As time permits, I'll add in additional hyperlinks to appropriate material in the rest of the web site. I'm working on the conversion of an English translation of "L'Empire de l'Air.".