1891 correspondence between
Octave Chanute and Louis Pierre Mouillard

Cairo, 31 January 1891

Louis-Pierre Mouillard to Octave Chanute

I received your kind letter of December 31, 1890 which contained a draft of 500 Francs made out to my order on the Credit Lyonnais. This amount is for the purpose of taking up arms and guard myself against you.

Now, I have no words which could express my thanks to you. Whatever I might say would not be adequate. I shall not take out any patent at all, and you may reverse this decision in case that there is something which may be profitable among the ideas which I am submitting to you.

I therefore accept with gratitude the conditions which you stated in your letter. You do the best you can, and I am certain, in advance, that everything will turn out for the best.

My poor book, which only lacked one chapter from being finished, has to wait now a while before it will be published.

I herewith enclose a photograph of your servant. I am taking the liberty to send it to you, as it may assist you to form an opinion of the person with whom you have business dealings.

Here also is some information about myself.

I was born in Lyons in 1835. My Father was a manufacturer of silk kerchiefs. I was a pupil in a boarding school until I was eighteen. From there I went to the School of Fine Arts in Lyons and then to that of Paris. Here I stayed two years and became a pupil of H. Plaudrin, a painter of religious subjects.

This master as well as art itself did not agree with my temperament. I had made a bad choice. Finally, when my entry into the competition for the prize of Rome was denounced, I left Paris, quit painting and went to Algiers where I bought a large farm.

However two blows struck me there from which I did not recover. An epidemic among the farm animals, and monetary losses pretty nearly ruined me, I must confess. As this was the time of the general flight from Algiers (1865), I did as everybody else, I left and settled in Egypt. I was admitted by the Egyptian Government, as professor of drawing at the military schools, and kept this position until 1871. At this time every Frenchman was dismissed ‹ Paris had fallen.

Since then I have been a merchant with various success, and at present I am a druggist.

It so happens that I am back in the trade which I had a chance to learn until I was 25 years old. I was a hard and conscientious worker, but very irregular. My small means allowed me to do this, and I never supposed that my "wings could be clipped." Neither did I want to qualify in this special business, a matter which I truly repent. I was already stricken by that horror of beaten paths which has been the misfortune of my entire life. This is the reason why there are so many gaps in my knowledge although I know so many things.

Here then, dear Sir, you have the true picture of the man in whom you wish to interest yourself. I am going to prepare the documents and to send them to you as soon as they are ready.

Finally, Sir, I have to thank you for the confidence and sympathy which you so kindly showed toward me and to tell you that I shall not forget it.

9 February 1891

Octave Chanute to Louis-Pierre Mouillard

I am sending you a pamphlet which has just been published. In it is reprinted a paper I presented at Cornell University last May where I tried to describe the actual status of the aeronautical problem. Unfortunately this pamphlet is in English. You may note that I expressed the opinion that in the very near future it will be possible to attain a speed of from 60 to 8O kilometers per hour with dirigibles equipped with conventional engines. However when higher speeds and heavier loads are desired the airplane must be considered.

I mention your book on page 26. Then I analyze the work of Mr. Drzewiecki and point out that airplanes will probably require engines of about 1/4 H.P. per ton per kilometer/hour. This means that if the machine weighs one ton and the known speed is 40 kilometers per hour, we will have

(1 x 40)/4 = 10 H.P. as a maximum.

Taking this as a working basis, I calculate that 1 H.P. should not weigh more than 23 kilograms, and I examine the weight of present-day engines 1. steam, 2. gas engine and 3. electricity (page 31), giving due recognition to the latest studies on gas engines. Since I have given this lecture two American inventors announced that they had invented light engines as I told you in my letter of Dec. 30. One, Mr. Maxim who says that his engine weighs 2.72 kilos per H.P., is a reliable man who intends to make some experiments in England, the other, Mr.Pennington who is at present here in Chicago told me that he experimented with a small gas engine which produced 1 H.P. at a weight of l.l kilos and that he is going to build a 100 H.P. in the same proportions.

When I inspected the model of his dirigible balloon which is supposed to make 40 kilometers per hour and which makes 4 kilometers per hour at best, I came to the conclusion that this man is a practical joker (a leg puller). He proposed to build for me a 50 H.P. gas engine which would only weigh 454 kilograms or 9 Kilos per H.P. I shall look deeper into his proposition.

The Society of American Civil Engineers honored me by electing me as their president. I am going to write to Mr. Maxim who is a member of our society for a description of his engine as soon as his claims are covered by a patent.

I write you all this as a sort of information in reference to the pamphlet I sent you. I hope you read English or that somebody close to you will.

19 February 1891

Octave Chanute to Louis-Pierre Mouillard

I am very much affected by the candor and confidence which you expressed toward me in your letter of January 31. Your first letter aroused my sympathy and since then this sympathy has constantly increased.

I shall try to be worthy of this confidence which you are so kind to show to me, yet I urge you to take certain precautions so that all your inventions are clearly specified to prevent any idea of yours to be taken away from you. On the one hand I have known inventors who wrongly believed themselves to have been robbed, and on the other hand it is sometimes hard to distinguish between what is one's own invention and what has been suggested to you by somebody else.

I myself have some ideas which I believe to be new, but fortunately I explained them to a collaborator so I may lay claim to them if need be.

I am sending you my photograph. I was born in Paris in 1832, but I have been in the United States since 1839 so that I am a full-fledged American, even to the point of being prejudiced. I began my career as engineer in 1848, and until 1883 I have been constantly employed by various companies in the construction and administration of railroads and bridges. In 1883 after having acquired a certain amount of wealth I became consulting engineer. At present I am in the business of preserving wood by means of a chemical process and have an interest in a Chicago factory for this purpose. I am in a position to sacrifice 50,000 or even 100,000 francs in an enterprise which looks profitable. I also have some friends who have enough confidence in my judgment to advance me capital. However I want to be very sure of my statement before inviting them to invest.

I have always been interested in air navigation, but only since there is no more objection on the part of my family did I take it up actively.

Cairo, 25 February l891

Louis-Pierre Mouillard to Octave Chanute

By the same mail I am forwarding to you a part of the manuscript of my book Le Vol Sans Battement.. After you have read it, kindly return it to me. I then will mail you the continuation of it, and by doing so I shall have time enough to reexamine and to repeat experiments which date back a long time. At present I am experimenting with parachutes and kites; therefore these will be the two subjects which I shall submit to you first. My propeller and my high-speed boat cause me much trouble; however I hope to overcome it and to be able to present them to you in a comprehensive manner. With the part of the manuscript I sent you today I believe that I shall convince you of the possibility and the necessity of gliding flight. All you need is a demonstration and to see the models. I dare not hope to be able to show them to you. The exposition date is approaching and I know well that I must not insist or else you would not be able to carry out your duties.

If during the exposition you think it necessary to make a test of aviation by the method mentioned in my manuscript and in case you want to build one of the airplanes described therein, you will have my wholehearted consent, and I only wish one thing, namely that this test turns out to be successful. However success not only depends on the machine but also on the aviator. It is unfortunate that I cannot carry out these experiments myself, my knowledge of the flight of birds would simplify this problem very much. I have tried hard to explain everything I know, but I recognize that it is almost impossible to do so, especially in writing.

Finally, Sir, I have appointed you as judge to do the best you can, and I shall abide by your decision.

Cairo, 15 March 1891

Louis-Pierre Mouillard to Octave Chanute

I have just received your kind letter, also your photograph and I thank you immensely for them. Your previous correspondence permitted me to guess many things, among others that you are of French birth, now I have absolute confirmation and I like nothing better than to tell you that I am going to continue to recapitulate, wholeheartedly and without any reservations whatever, everything I believe to have dreamed. I know things will be in kind and firm hands. I therefore rely on you absolutely.

Enclosed is a description of my ship, the one I have brooded over since I was a youth. It is only expressed in words yet I have it very complete in my mind: a new log, lubrication of the bottom, etc., nothing on it is missing. What gets me somewhat afraid is the revolutionizing part. I do not know whether one may risk it; I fear it is too far ahead of the times. My only hope is the daring of the Americans. ‹ Two weeks ago I mailed you those chapters of my book which pertain to direct aviation. I hope they have reached you. This is a record of observations of my lifelong observations. I had a great advantage over those who applied themselves to this problem, because for thirty years I have had excellent models constantly in front of my eyes. It is to this circumstance that one must attribute the exuberance of my faith, the certainty of being right that radiates from every page of my book. This is no boast on my part at any rate as far as I personally am concerned, as it is the bird, the master flyer, which I defend. It can not speak and I feel as if it had chosen me as its interpreter.

I have read, dear Sir, the best I could Aerial Navigation and the other English reading matters you sent me. I have to confess to you my ignorance in regard to languages: I do not speak either English or German or even Italian. This may be traced back to a deficiency of the brain which all Frenchmen have when it comes to learning another language but their own. By the same token I am in Africa for thirty years and I speak Arabic very badly. And we are all like that, at least when we are confronted with a study which we should have taken up when we were young. I am expecting a friend of mine who is going to translate everything for me from A to Z, and as soon as I have digested it I shall chat with you about it.

May I ask you, Sir, to have the kindness to convey to Mr. Langley who showed such great interest in myself and in my ideas, my respectful regards and to thank him for his amiable kindness shown toward me.

20 March 1891

Octave Chanute to Louis-Pierre Mouillard

On the 16th of this month I received your kind letter of February 25 and I have just received your book by the same mail.

I was not expecting anything else in the package but a summary of the inventions you mentioned, and I am quite uneasy to have on my hands a document which is so important to you. I hope you have kept a copy of it, in case of loss in the mail. At any rate I shall take good care of it, keep it in my safe, and return it to you as soon as possible.

There may be a possibility that I have to retain it for several weeks as I have to go to Washington where I am to speak on the occasion of the Hundredth Anniversary of our patent system.

As soon as I have examined the material I have just received, I shall write you again. May I suggest that you send me in the future first of all those inventions of which you think I could make some profit for you. I long for a chance to be active in your interest.

Chicago, 7 April 1891

Octave Chanute to Louis-Pierre Mouillard

The day after I received your manuscript I took sick with the flu and as soon as I felt better I opened Le Vol Sans Battement. I was thrilled and I read it from beginning to end without stopping.

I shall come back to it when my head feels more at rest, but I want to give you my first impression.

You did a remarkable piece of work, and I hope that the principle on which you base your theory ‹ that it will vary the center of gravity in order to change the angle of attack ‹ will lead successfully to gliding flight and perhaps also to powered flight.

I wonder what benefit you may draw from it, and I suppose you want two things:

1. To have the honor of having advanced a fine idea.

2. To draw some pecuniary profit out of it.

It seems to me that both could be combined by taking out a patent first for the principal applications of the idea and then by publishing your work so that the amateurs begin to make experiments. Lest we deceive ourselves, there are many tests to be made and mishaps to be endured and this may take a long time. As you admitted yourself, your machine with a 23 meter span is not very practical and a long way off the basic idea to be put into practice despite of this idea being so simple.

Yet basic ideas cannot be patented, the law protects only their applications. I therefore urge you to think of some relative combinations which could be made with your idea, and of the claims to be applied for in a patent. There is always the peril not to think of every application and this is a delicate point on which you have to take chances; because I am thoroughly convinced that once your book is published the simplicity of your idea will induce many people ‹ I to be the first one ‹ to build machines.

If you so desire, I shall defray the expenses for taking out patents as soon as you are ready to do so. Also, if you give your permission, I shall translate your book so that the French and English editions will be published at the same time.

I deferred from going into details of your machine until I had received your book. However I would like to know forthwith which is the angle of attack the soaring bird uses more often against the wind and whether it is inclined to the front or the rear.

4 April 1891

Letter from Louis-Pierre Mouillard to Octave Chanute - Missing

8 April 1891

Octave Chanute to Louis-Pierre Mouillard

One hour after I had written you yesterday I received your kind letter of the 15th, and I read them at once.

I must admit that the form of the hull which you praise so highly has surprised me. I have investigated birds and fishes and I thought that the main beam should be about 1/3 from the front so that the streamlines in the rear could render a part of the work needed to produce a compression on the front, as shown in Goupill's Locomotion Aerianne, pages 25 and 89.

Yet I know that experiments with torpedoes show that for high speeds the main beam should be about 2/3 from the front, and that for pleasure boats the same form as you proposed is used in America.

I am sending you the first booklet on this subject which I could lay my hands on. It is from the Douglas Co. whose place of business is several miles from here. See pages 38, 40, 46, 48, 97 and 99.

The flat hull is excellent and is much in use on our rivers, but the deep keel has a great handicap, because there are very few ports where a ship which has a draught of 10 meters could enter. Most of our harbors have from 4 to 5 meters at best. Fortunately we have invented the movable keel, a flat hinged plank which acts as a keel in deep water and which is retracted into a hollow space provided for it on the hull, if the ship is in shallow water, see pages 19, 26, 31, 33, 53, 58, 64.

Do you think of attaching propellers to a series of false keels, as I have indicated with pencil marks on pages 26, 31, 33. Either the propeller has two blades and is retracted against the true keel, or else it has 3 or 4 blades and is retracted into a hollow space provided for this purpose which has shutters equipped with elastic hinges in order to preserve the smoothness of the hull.

The Americans certainly will not be afraid of your idea. It remains to be seen whether they think of it well enough to try it out. I therefore must explain the matter to experts under promise of secrecy. I intend to do that as soon as I can do it with caution. I see already that this means giving away a good part of the patent in order to induce the designers to make experiments and to build a ship. Yet this is just what is needed between England and France.

Cairo, 14 April 1891

Letter from Louis-Pierre Mouillard to Octave Chanute (Lubrication of Ships) - Missing.

24 April 1891

Octave Chanute to Louis-Pierre Mouillard

This morning I received your kind letter of April 4, and read it with great interest.

For two months I have been wondering what an "Alpine Balloon" would look like, and now you come and have reinvented an old acquaintance of mine. The idea is not a bad one at that, but it needs to be improved.

In 1850 the American aeronaut Wise published a book in which he proposes a spheric balloon of a diameter of 5.50 meters from which a man who was equipped with articulated wings could be suspended. He could move the wings and his legs. He claims to have made jumps 100 meters long with the wind in a similar machine, also to have crossed a pine forest several kilometers wide by jumping against the tree tops.

However experiments soon demonstrated that a slight breeze would carry off the machine and the aeronaut. In fact a wind of 10 meters per second produces a pull of more than 100 kilograms on a sphere which has a diameter of 5.50 meters. This is more than a man could do, so the idea was abandoned. Several years later this idea was taken up again by the English author Mansfield who was acquainted with Wise's experiments. He proposed a spindle-shaped balloon (approximately 24 meters x 4 meters) from which a man was suspended by means of a harness and so could use his arms and legs to create forward motion. I do not exactly know why the experiments were not successful, but I believe it was due to the wind and to variable gusts which struck the balloon on the sides.

An American aeronaut, Carl Myers, who probably knew of these experiments for several years, had the idea, that it is necessary to make use of the wind as the birds do, instead of being carried off by it. About three years ago he started experiments with a sphere cut in two, and he is about to improve a machine which he calls "Aerial Bicycle." Vague mention of it was made from time to time in the newspapers, but on April 11, I found in my paper a detailed description which I am sending you together with a translation which I made especially for you. I also am mailing you the only illustration I have of it, which I clipped from a funny story about two months ago. I believe that the experiments are not yet entirely completed and that the inventor has not taken out all patents pertaining to the machine, so that there are some gaps in the article as well as in the illustration. Yet I think you will be surprised to note the progress made, and with a machine which moves against the wind.

I know another American inventor who, about two years ago retired into the desert so he could make experiments. He wrote me that he at last had produced a machine without balloon, which rises and moves forward against a strong breeze, but that its equilibrium is not stable enough for him to make an ascent in it in person. As far as I know he uses a curved surface, reproducing the forms of a wing in an approximately square plane.

Therefore, the question is, to know whether you would be able to improve your idea of an Alpine balloon in the direction indicated by these American experiments. If so, I shall make some tests here at the opening of the exposition to improve the matter before showing it.

It seems to me that the form shown in the illustration is not the best possible and that the lateral equilibrium leaves much to be desired when exposed to gusts.

The machine ought to be very slow and if possible should be provided with a tricycle gas engine. This engine could blow gas into the calotte once the takeoff is made, which would prevent the calotte from fluttering out and so reduce drag. The engine also would supply the motive power.

I have not yet consulted the experts in reference to your ship, but hope to do so within a few days. I shall be glad to get news from you and remain with a cordial handshake.

Cairo, 5 May 1891

Letter from Louis-Pierre Mouillard to Octave Chanute (airplane and its dimensions) - Missing

Cairo, 14 May 1891

Letter from Louis-Pierre Mouillard to Octave Chanute (Alpine balloon) - Missing

Cairo, 25 May 1891

Letter from Louis-Pierre Mouillard to Octave Chanute (about log, idea for Exposition) - Missing

Cairo, 17 June 1891

Louis-Pierre Mouillard to Octave Chanute

As much as I fear to trouble you, it seems to me that waiting much longer would make me look indifferent.

I have not had any news from you since I received your kind letter dated April 8th. I hope, I even am convinced that nothing unfortunate has happened to you. Perhaps your many business activities do not give you time to think of me. Yet, I beg you to please send me a short note just telling me that my dear benefactor is in good health. As long as I know that this is the case, I hardly worry about everything else and am at ease.

Permit me to describe to you the sensation I experienced just a few moments ago. I was on the threshold of a door when I noticed two or three large vultures which flew majestically from South to North. When I saw these uncommon birds I was rendered immobile by this spectacle. I studied then that mode of flight which is the non plus ultra an aviator may dream of, when I saw several others arrive, flying like the first ones toward North. I told myself that here is a good opportunity for me to verify whether all I have written about this almost unknown bird had not been exaggerated, but when I looked at the picture, the photography of the spectacle it offers I had to admit that I had only transgressed by my inability to know how to present what I had seen. I was still there with those thoughts when I noticed far away a flight of more of these birds coming this way. They advanced slowly, yet with a speed which other birds could not attain without flapping their wings. Several hundred have passed above me. This is one of the greatest mass flights of these birds I have ever seen. I thought, if Mr. Chanute was here now gliding flight would be an accomplished fact. One does not need to look twice to be convinced. While they passed above me for twenty minutes I noticed once more their flight, so extraordinary by its simplicity, and was satisfied that what I had just seen was a fine performance. If I were free to act I would have jumped into a carriage and would be at that spot in the desert where they are now. The sight which they must present ought to be an entirely different picture than that I tried to paint of them in flight without flapping wings. They have lured away all the small vultures of the city. My own have left with the rest.

It is too bad that I have no other point of observation, as from the street where I am now one has only a very limited one of the sky. I am told that these birds are coming from every point of the horizon and fly toward Abbassileh and there must be thousands of birds in that locality.

I know what attracts them! Tomorrow the caravan which carries the holy carpet to Mecca sets out. The pilgrims and their mounts are assembled in this section. If I had left at the time I wanted to follow the birds I would have been forced to make several kilometers more, because they are above Khoule's which is farther away. But this is a trifle to them. Yes, dear sir, I observed carefully, analyzed well and I am even convinced that I have not been mistaken in the explanation and imitation of this type of flight. I am correct, these two hundred or three hundred vultures have proven it to me for the thousandth time.

I consider myself in a very disinterested way. It does not seem to me as if it was I who had written L'Empire de l'Air, it is so long ago since I read it the last time. The same holds good for Vol sans Battement except the last chapter, so I am entirely impartial.

I am telling you all this in such a lengthy manner because I am enraptured. Among all these birds I have not seen a single one flapping its wings, and they flew against the wind. You may judge now what I think of flight with flapping wings.

P.S. Have you received my rotation indicator?

19 June 1891

Octave Chanute to Louis-Pierre Mouillard

For the past two months I have been mostly out of town, in New York and in the South, so that I owe you an answer to four letters, dated April 14, May 5, May 14, and May 25. I therefore shall make four separate replies, as short reckonings make long friends.

Let us take up first yours of April 14th. I am sorry that I did not receive it before my trip to New York where I wanted to get some information about experiments which have been made in reference to lubrication of ships. I know vaguely that they have been made but do not know under what conditions. It has been said that the ship officers tested various materials and that yellow beeswax has given the best results. The coefficient of friction resulting from one application of it was less than that of a film of petroleum. However, it is necessary to inquire more fully or else one would run the risk of being frustrated when taking out a patent.

I want to tell you that your "lubricator" looks to me to have a greater profit making possibility than all the other ideas you have yet presented to me, provided that the idea is a new one, and the effect such as may be expected. It is simple, practical, not expensive and easy to demonstrate. If this is successful there would be a nice profit on it, provided one is not robbed by the ship owners. In order to prevent this it would be necessary to take out patents and to have inspectors in every maritime country.

I am not so impressed with your "Insufflator." Air is so much lighter than water that it will rise to the surface without decreasing friction very much. It would be necessary to pump it in along the keel in order to get an appreciable effect. In such a case the application would not be easy on a ship in service and then maintenance has to be considered also. Yet one could make experiments.

My idea for the moment is to get some information on what has been done about lubrication, then if action has been taken, to take out patents unanimously. After that to arrange a transatlantic trip at my expense to make the test. If three hours can be saved between New York and Liverpool the business deal is as good as closed. During my travels I have visited the Douglas Co. in reference to your ship. I was told that beginning with the shape of the "Nimrod" page 97 and "Nabel" page 99 they have already come very close to the hull you propose. Also, that this shape is very good on calm water, but wretchedly bad in rough seas for the waves rush underneath the ship and slacken in pace. Therefore it cannot be used for oceangoing steamers and is limited for pleasure boats only.

It was explained to me, how experiments are made pertaining to the form of ships. It is entirely empiric. Each time only one single part is changed in order to be very certain that the resulting effect is caused by this modification only. Yet this modification is never very extensive, because there is a possibility that it might modify the effect of other parts. What turns out to be good is being retained while bad features are relinquished. But the progress for the better is very slow, for ships have been built for such a long time that there are not many improvements which are not known. An objection is raised against your idea, as there would be too many new parts (deep hull, 4 screws, new pitch, special machines, means of transmission, etc.) too many chances to be taken when building on a large scale, and besides there are no harbors deep enough for 10 meters draught.

I believe that you have been told a similar story in Europe. The question now is simply to see other shipbuilders in order to get either a different opinion, or good reasons to believe that this idea would not be profitable at all.

Please give me your opinion on the subject of the effect of waves on the hull proper. It may very well be possible that the form of a diving bird is not the best for a floating ship.

Do you know of a speed fish which has a shape similar to the one you propose?

It seems to me that the front part of this type of fish is very large, so that the lines of the fluid flow (stream lines) when they come together again in the rear assist to a certain extent in their separation on the front.

At any rate, I am going to look for more information and I shall follow up this matter by trying to find somebody who is willing to make experiments, even on a small scale.

20 June 1891

Octave Chanute to Louis-Pierre Mouillard

I wrote you yesterday in reply to your letter of April 14, and today I want to answer yours of May 5 which deals with the question of the airplane.

In a few days I am starting to translate those parts of your new book which you submitted to me, then I shall return them to you.

I have engaged somebody to translate "l'Empire de l'Air" under my supervision in order to expedite matters.

I have decided to make large-scale experiments with your airplane and I have found two men to assist me. One is a young engineer of my acquaintance, who has aptitude and knowledge for this kind of work and whom I shall put to work, the other is a strolling photographer who for the last 20 years has observed the flight of birds. He has built several small airplane models which resemble yours very much. Naturally I shall not show him your designs, in order to protect your priority, and if I make an arrangement with him, it will only be to experiment with him on his machine, before starting with yours. His idea is to suspend the airplane by means of a steel cable which is held between two posts which are about 60 meters high and which are placed about 20 meters apart. About 15 meters above the ground the airplane will be put through its maneuvers, the pilot lying flat on his stomach.

His machine has three adjustments. The cane in front ‹ aa' ‹ is rotary and increases or decreases the margin in the front, cane ‹ bb'‹ which is strongest, is hinged at ‹ b'b' ‹ to displace the center of gravity, while the tail is pivoted by means of a universal joint.


It is confronted with the same difficulty, which I notice on your machine, namely, when a ratio 1630 grams per square meter is adopted the machine would not have enough resistance in consideration of the light weight necessary. I showed him the superimposed planes but he fears that such an arrangement would interfere with the maneuver to circle in the air, a motion which he proposes for climbing.

I am sending you a newspaper article which gives a description of Maxim's large airplane. He proposes to change the angle of attack by varying the position of the nacelle which is suspended underneath by means of adjustable ropes. Seen from the side, it will look something like this:

Fig. 39-1

Here you have then two methods a little different than yours for changing the position of the center of gravity. I therefore kindly ask you, in order to apply for a patent, to let me know:

1) The various ways which you have considered to vary the center of gravity and the angle of attack.

2) What practical construction do you recommend to make a test with your machine?

By being careful I believe that I do not need to fret about a machine of 2500 grams and even 5000 grams per square meter. It seems to me that the smaller a machine would be in proportion to its weight, the easier it would be to handle, and the equilibrium could be better maintained, At present I am looking for a patent bureau which understands the aeronautical problem well, so that I may get in touch with it.

As to the angle of attack I did not express myself clearly enough. I wanted to ask you whether the plane of the wings is inclined toward the front or toward the rear when the bird is circling. If it is inclined toward the rear the horizontal component force interferes with the forward motion. If it is inclined toward the front the horizontal component force acts in the direction of the motion. However, the bird will drop, unless the speed is high enough to lift more than the weight of the bird and provided that the wind does not add any weight on the back of the bird. In this case the angle of attack must be very small and a very delicate adjustment of the surfaces is necessary. This is my reasoning, and perhaps I can make it more distinct by exaggerating the matter. Suppose a wedge moves horizontally against the direction of the wind; it is clear that the wind does not add any weight on its top.

Let us represent the weight by the line OP, and the normal pressure by the line ON, provided the wedge moves with the wind. If we then construct the parallelogram of forces above the wedge and make OA equal to ON we notice that it is broken down at AB which assists the motion and at OB which balances the weight. But when the wedge moves against the wind with a certain speed the normal pressure increases and becomes ON which is broken down at OD in the direction of the motion and at OB in the direction of lift. Therefore the bird is lifted while advancing against the wind.


Yet the thicker the wedge is on the blunt end, the greater will be the resistance of the air at forward motion. There is then a delicate arrangement of surfaces to a very limited degree, with a very special curved profile in front which you call "aspiration."

I shall be glad to have your opinion on this subject, and for the present I kindly ask you to preserve for me the secret of this theory.

20 June 1891

Octave Chanute to Louis-Pierre Mouillard

This morning I wrote you in reference to the airplane, and this letter refers to the Alpine Balloon, in reply to yours of May 14.

You are perfectly correct with your remarks on the aerial bicycle. During my trip I visited with Mr. Myers and I found out that the newspaper reporter acted very much on his own.

Mr. Myers (he calls himself professor as a matter of form) is a practical balloonist who charges an admission fee for his ascents. His investigations on the shape of least resistance are made during his spare time. He has given up the hat shape, I wrote you about, and has applied for a patent on the enclosed form. He has used it six times in public and succeeded in moving against a wind of from two to three meters per second.

He does not claim at all that his balloon was moved forward by the opposing wind. He discussed with the reporter several experiments with tailless kites. These kites moved against the wind when the string was cut. The newspaper had the balloon and kite experiments all mixed up. Besides the outcome of the experiments with kites as mentioned before, were purely accidental and he cannot give any correct explanation of what took place in the air. He certainly is not able to repeat such a performance. The only explanation in this case could be that the kite moved against the wind while descending and it is easy to explain that the action produced was due to fact that the equilibrium became stable.

I am expecting your chapter on kites with great interest. I have been in Washington to see a score of machines of this type from China and Japan.

I have decided to build an Alpine balloon for preliminary experiments and I kindly ask you to send me the drawings and instructions which you deem necessary. I do not think that I need any for the balloon and the net, but there is a possibility that I might make mistakes as far as the airplane and the harness are concerned.

What do you think of using a fish shaped balloon instead of the sphere you suggest? The wind is an obstacle to be reckoned with, as there will be very few days when the air will be calm enough so as not to carry away the sphere. The latter has a coefficient of 41 percent of the surface at the equator while commandant Kinard's balloon has only a resistance of 1 percent. Besides, one could do better yet.

My calculations show a pull of 30 kilos on a sphere of a diameter of 5.50 meters by a wind of 5 meters, and only 9 kilos by the same wind on a spindle-shaped balloon of a diameter of 4.87 at the equator.

21 June 1891

Octave Chanute to Louis-Pierre Mouillard

I wrote you one letter on the 19th and two on the 20th, and today I am going to answer yours of May 25th in regard to the log.

I feel not competent enough to express an opinion on this device and shall have to consult experts. However, I would appreciate if you would write me a short note telling me its practical applications, and the necessity which led you to its invention. You see, I do not understand.

Let us take up once more the subject of experiments on high speeds. I am sending you two issues of Electric Power which give a report of them. On page 130 of the April number is a description of an arrangement with which speeds of 185 kilometers per hour have been attained. The closed curved track was about 3 kilometers long and its gauge was 71 centimeters. The framework was of wood and had on its upper part a third rail, head down, which guided an upper wheel to prevent oscillations. See general view. - The car weighed 3 tons, the driving wheels were outside and the dynamo inside. Electricity was supplied by means of the top rail. Fig. 1 shows the side view, the section and the top view. The engineer estimates the air resistance to be about 72 kilos per square meter, at a speed of about 242 kilometers per hour. This would give approximately a coefficient of 13% for the resistance of a thin plane.

The car was 5 meters long, 71 centimeters high, and 76 centimeters wide. The diameter of the wheels was 71 centimeters. The experiments were made with cars of various shapes and had the principle purpose to build a railroad for the high speed transportation of mail. Later on it is intended to develop this transportation into passenger service.

The June number brings on page 215 a report of an experiment of an entirely different method. The electric motor instead of being inside the carriage, consists of a series of rings which are electrified in succession and attract a carriage which is mounted on internal wheels, either above or below and contains mail. See the track page 216 and the carriage page 217.

The carriage weighs 227 kilos, is 2.50 meters long and has a diameter of 25 centimeters. Both ends are pointed. The experimental circular track measured 849 meters and the speed obtained has been 54 kilometers per hour, at which the air resistance was about 1/2 kilo. The speed expected in practice is also 242 kilometers per hour. However in neither of the two experiments was the track built solidly enough to allow such a speed without danger. The experiments should be repeated on more solid tracks.

I wish to submit to you the following question: Which is the best form the carriages should have to meet the least air resistance? There is no hurry about the answer.

12 July 1891

Octave Chanute to Louis-Pierre Mouillard

I received your letter of June 17 and by now you should be in possession of my four letters of June 19, 20, and 21, which tell you why I have not answered sooner.

With the greatest of interest I have read your description of the flight of the great vultures toward Abyssinia and I wish deeply that I could have enjoyed the stirring spectacle of this flight which appeared so extraordinary by its simplicity. Did you notice whether the birds descended while flying against the wind or whether they stayed in the same altitude?

While we are on this subject, permit me to ask you what you mean by "great vulture"? Is it brown or grey and does it eat fresh meat or carrion? In the southern states we have the turkey buzzard which eats rotten meat and which comes north during the summer. This is a grey bird with brown speckles. We also have in California a large vulture which is dark brown of approximately the color of the eagle, but I do not know its habits. If you would be kind enough to give me the necessary information I shall make it my business next winter to observe the flight of whichever of the two birds you recommend.

As I told you in my letter of June 20th, I engaged a young engineer in order to build a flying machine. At present we are experimenting with the longitudinal equilibrium which always gives me much trouble. Experiments indoors with the load in front and the correction fold in the rear do not always succeed in the open, due to strong breezes.

In Vol sans Battement you say that no control is shown on the machines pictures in Dieuaide's Tableau d'Aviation. Should there not be an exception in favor of those of Du Temple (1857) and d'Esterno (1864)? It seems to me that both are gliders on which the carrying surfaces may either be moved forward or backward which causes a variation of the angle of attack. This may be of importance when patents are to be taken out.

In a few days I am leaving for the country where I shall translate Vol sans Battement in order to return the manuscript to you. There is so much interruption in the city that I am unable to make any progress.

12 July 1892

Letter from Louis-Pierre Mouillard to Octave Chanute (explains rotation indicator) - Missing

16 July 1891

Louis-Pierre Mouillard to Octave Chanute

I wrote you on July 12 giving some explanations of the rotation indicator. This is in reply to yours of June 19. My letter of June 17 must have revealed to you that I was worried. I could not imagine what had happened to you. I began to recite as the Mohammedans do "God is great!" I am happy to know that you are in good health.

I am of the same opinion as you about the profitable possibilities of the "lubricator." Just for fun I could send you my compliments for that little idea, which as a matter of fact is rather simple, but practical and as far as I know has never been utilized. Steamship lines do not have it on their large ships on the China route. My belief is that it is new.

It should not surprise you at all that a landlubber should have new ideas on matters pertaining to the sea. In my opinion it is just the opposite. When you are a sailor you finally get used to the sea, you do your job and finally think of nothing else. It is the same feeling I have with Oriental picturesqueness; I don't see it any more; I would not be able to describe it; I am over saturated with it; it comes to my mind only when I am in France and forget it. Having said that, let's get down to the beeswax. I do not have faith in it because in a pure state it is hard to apply on iron and peels off in large sheets, when it is changed into a paste by the addition of a solvent (essence of turpentine) it will not resist the current because the paint is easily soluble in turpentine. The ship would have to be repainted very often, which means dry dock expense and deformation of the hull.

Crude oil which I propose is cheap and makes sliding (in water) easy, due to two characteristics. First its lubricating action and then its preservative action.

The constant manner in which it is applied to the hull, makes it a perpetual painting job, beginning the moment the ship starts to move.

Its application not only makes it unnecessary to put the ship in dry dock, it also eliminates scraping and painting which are necessary after several voyages in order to maintain the speed of the ship. The oil abundantly applied should take the place of paint. In my opinion its outstanding achievement is to make the ship's trip to the dry dock unnecessary. This docking always puts the ship out of order, as its rivets work loose when its keel and its stays are supported on special points instead entirely on all sides as is the case when it is in the water. Therefore this method has, vulgarly speaking, more back than front.

As to the inspection you mentioned, which, between ourselves is very difficult to carry out, I believe that this difficulty could be overcome by selling the patent to a large steamship company. Such a company would be in a position to look after its priority. It is my opinion that such an action would save us much money and time. Above all there is plenty to do, for I am not through creating.

I need your reputation, your position, your discretion. An idea presented by me, an unknown, immobilized in his hole in Cairo, does not carry much weight. However, if introduced by you, that is entirely different; you will succeed easily where I should fail utterly. Therefore, at my opinion, one should go easy in the first transaction and spend only a little money for a while. As a matter of fact, I speak here of affairs which do not concern me at all as they come under your jurisdiction; excuse me for stepping over into your grounds. This suggestion was due to my eager desire to give the penury which ties me down, a bit of lubrication.

At the time when the idea came to me, a score of years ago, I thought of adding to the crude oil various substances which would have remained in a dissolved state. Among them was euphorbia resin which has the property to prevent rust formation on iron. But in view of the difficulties connected with such a procedure, and in consideration of constructing a device which is essentially practical I used oil just as it comes out of the well and simply filtered it to remove the sand. It acts better than refined petroleum, because it is heavier, takes longer to come to the surface of the water, and finally it contains many substances which have the same effect as beeswax but which are dissolved naturally in the oil.

Let us talk now of the boat. I am entirely of your opinion that it will be necessary to get information from other shipbuilders besides Douglas. It seems to me that he is not anxious to consider such a transformation. The construction of some small yacht does not offer enough profit to risk such an enterprise. In order to be able to utilize and venture the construction of this boat, interested parties of another scope are needed. What I mean is a larger concern which may have the courage. It should be sensible in doing so, because if the idea is good, profits may be expected which should eliminate a good deal of the risk of loss of capital. In reference of your remarks as to the enormous revolution my suggestions are to bring about: everything new, from top to bottom is, at my opinion, a chance of success. This is truly new, it's the correct unknown quantity, and this it is its quality of which an intelligent and daring concern which has sufficient capital for risking a try should not be afraid.

I do not adhere at all to the tonnage which I have indicated. What made me put 100 meters and 1000 tons in the design I mailed you, was the idea to have this drawing on a scale 1:100, in other words make a centimeter represent one meter. In this way estimations may be made quickly and easily, also the reading of the drawing, all calculations may be made by means of mental arithmetic simply by using a ruler. However, I am adhering to the proportional depth of the keel, which is the most essential part of this invention. However, when the tonnage decreases, the keel becomes less in proportion in the same way as the screws.

In this connection I ought to give you my idea of what I call "shock." It is the blow struck by a wave on a flat surface, to which Mr. Douglas called your attention. You noticed that there are two kinds of waves: small ones and big ones. A small wave is the disturbance of the water caused by ten or twelve small waves which follow one another. At my opinion a boat should be built able to withstand either one or the other of the waves. Consequently there should only be two types of boats, one which endures the small wave only and avoids the big ones: this is the small boat, for the Mediterranean it is about 50 meters long. The large boat which passes over the small wave and only considers the big one should in my opinion be not less than 200 meters long. All intermediate dimensions have to meet these two waves combined. Sailors who serve on steam ships will tell you that during stormy weather it is safer to be on a brig than on a steamer which is hundred meters long. The "shock" is not noticeable on either the large or the small boat. The latter is lifted by the small wave, it is rather small to yield to it, so as to be carried away and not to be struck by it. As to the large boat its weighty mass protects it from the effect of this shock because the small wave is unable to lift it.

In reference to this shock which for good reasons causes anxiety, and according to the above ideas, one would be in a good position to build an oceangoing vessel according to my method which should be about 70 meters long. The dimensions of the keel in my design are decreased proportionally so that it will not prevent an obstacle when entering a harbor. Such a ship will not be carried away by any of the waves, it will pitch severely but under good conditions, it will not roll. The speed may be slowed down a bit by these momentary conditions, but despite of it, it ought to be still higher than that of the actual mail boats.

In reference to the large ship - 200 meters - I do not believe it to be practical. Commerce has no use for such sizes and could not fuel them. In my opinion this had much more to do with the failure of the Great Eastern than a cow falling into the sitting room and the rivalries of the English designers who were jealous of Brunel (sp.?). As a mighty war ship she was a great success. With such a size her stability should be very great as should be her other properties, such as speed.

Summing it all up, if a good small boat is required which performs well on the sea, it should not be more than 75 meters long, else one would be under the influence of the two combined waves which sometimes have some very extraordinary effects.

Dear Sir, read again the chapter on "penetration", as I do not know how to express myself better, there you will see that I do not believe in a good profile of fishes and he who eats them has precisely the form of my ship.

Therefore, I am entirely of your opinion. It is simply a question to call on other shipbuilders.

21 July 1891

Louis-Pierre Mouillard to Octave Chanute

I am extremely thankful for your kind offer to translate my two books. I am sending you under separate cover the larger part of the rest of Vol sans Battement. In order to finish them, I am retaining the chapters titled: Balloons - of which you have already a portion, namely the Alpine Balloon. Final review, etc. As to the rest, you may get a clear idea of the arrangement of the book for the table of contents at the end of it where you will see what chapters are missing.

I kindly ask you to look at once, whether there is a possibility to make profitable use of some ideas expressed in the book, before it is published. In the package you will also find the chapter you requested on kites. Please consider whether it contains a workable idea, if so try it out and take the necessary steps. It is not necessary at all to ask for my consent, as this would delay the matter for two months. I have stated to you several times, dear Sir, and herewith do it again that anything you wish to do is alright with me. If you think it wise to take out patents, please do so under the name O. Chanute from Mouillard, make use of them as you see fit, and I shall be happy.

There is one chapter which I shall withhold until I get some information, otherwise I shall omit it. It deals with the experiments with captive balloons made by the Navy in Toulon. I asked Admiral Aube for this information, but he could not give it to me. He died several months ago. If you could obtain this information for me you would greatly oblige me. This lookout station is one of some interesting points of another aquatic disturbance of my making which I could not finish. It is just as new and just as unimpaired today as it was ten years ago.

Please convey my fellow-feelings to the young engineer, you told me about. I shall watch with great interest the construction and tests of what has been the constant thought of my life.

As to the pictured airplane, I had to reread your letter, as I could not see the basic principle. Is it a flapping-wing airplane or a glider? The accompanying drawing resembles the sketch you drew in your letter.

You tell me that the surface of my latest airplane is too large. I only wanted it so for the first tests made in still air. It certainly has no bearing whatever on the design, but it has an enormous carrying capacity. By means of this first practice the aviator is satisfied that the air is supporting him. As soon as he wants to go a step further, trying to rise and consequently be exposed to the action of an air current of about 5 meters, a reduction of the surface will be necessary. This may be done on this machine in a very simple way: The new airplane is traced by means of very taut and well fastened string and everything which goes beyond (the tracing) is clipped off the "'bird." If the surface is still too large, it is decreased again, whereby it may be noticed that decreasing the surface corresponds with increasing the speed. One should arrive at not more than 12 square meters of surface which means a span of 8 meters and a width of 1.50 meters which is a ratio of 5:1 and could be classified as a slow soaring bird. This surface is amply sufficient for one who knows well how to fly in order to be lifted and to ascend without flapping wings. The large vulture has not got as much of a surface, but knows how to use it! It is up to us to learn step by step by recognizing gradually the difficulties and getting used to them. This is the reason this airplane with the exaggerated surface was created, as this surface may be decreased gradually.

As to the two high poles for the experiments you told me about, they are the fad of Bazin and Sanderval. I very often have argued with Bazin about this method and I hope that he is gradually coming back my way. Nothing is better than freedom, a high hill and water into which one may fall without hurting oneself.

Maxim's airplane according to your sketch, represents the infancy of the art.

It is one of the many dirigible parachutes. I never have been very successful with this type of machine which I have tried out many times, even recently. The control requires excessive and constant attention. Furthermore the load is placed too far from the carrying surface causing terrific swinging motions which take place once the speed decreases and these decreases are perpetual during flight. It is a parachute which, like any other parachute, oscillates the moment it starts to glide instead of dropping. It is a hundred thousand miles away from an airplane even from an imperfect one.

When he wants to improve his system he must shorten the lever [arm], then he gradually will arrive at the airplane quite naturally, where the load is supported by the entire body of the carrying surface.

You want to know the various ways which I recommend to vary the center of gravity. I have presented three methods. The first is described on page 250 and shown in figure 30. The method is correct provided two gasket rings are used, however, I must admit, that I never was successful to build it light enough. I have this machine at my place, it weighs 28 kilograms, it should weigh half as much. It will be necessary to preserve the principle which is fine, since it is a copy of the structure of the large soaring birds: vultures, eagles, etc. however, it has to be much lighter. The only material I know of, which could be used is aluminum, but in view of its price I have to give up this idea. The second method is shown on the de Massin-Biot airplane. Here is its history in a few words: Mr. de Massin asked me in 1882 for my latest combination in order to put it into practice. I gave it to him and he started to build. Several months afterwards the revolution in Egypt broke out and I stayed with him for a month. Here I saw the finished airplane, but its weight was enormous, as far as I can remember it weighed 32 kilograms. He never gave it a real test, and later on let Mr. Biot of Paris have it. Biot made some changes which I am going to describe to you (see the photograph). He started out by moving the aviator's place toward the rear. This is a mistake! The load of an airplane must always be in front. As a result of this move he could not make use of the control sticks which you will notice on the front, and which I have marked by two pin holes. He replaced these sticks by two pieces of curved wood of which he takes hold. This change in itself is not bad as far as the problem of moving the wing tips forward or backward is concerned. But my control sticks produced an effect which he seemingly did not understand, and which was the main reason for their being just where they were, namely their ability to create horizontal control. Actually, by moving these sticks forward or backward vertical control is created, but when they are twisted by putting one across the other, they turn and so produce the possibility of horizontal control. These two bamboo sticks rested in iron sockets which enabled this motion. The torsion created the following effect: The bamboo sticks, instead of being straight were slightly curved. When in regular position the arc of their curve was in the plane of the wing. When, due to this torsion, one wing tip was raised, a plane was formed which was different than that of the rest of the wing which remained in its original position. The latter produced horizontal control.

You understand that by this simple suppression it is deprived of one of the two directions, as shown in the photograph, and the airplane can be made to ascend and descend at will by moving the wing tips forward or backward, but it cannot be moved to the right or left. So Biot did not understand half of the mechanism which produces aviation. In spite of this basic imperfection he wrote me that he flew his plane, this may be so, but he never informed me that he had renewed his attempts. Moreover this machine was a copy of the structure of large soaring birds, it operates on about the same principle as the previous one. On both the displacement of the wing tips, though the manners of actuation differed, produced the same results of horizontal control. This control which is not presented in L'Empire de l'Air, fig. 30, see the missing space and let us admit it, for the very good reason of a reservation which I have charged to my credit: a mistake on my part which makes the airplane incomplete. Because the action of the displacement of the aviator is insufficient as I have stated in the chapter "Horizontal Control" of Vol sans Battement and described in the artificially created plane by means of the torsion of curved bamboo sticks on the Massin Biot airplane.

The method which I explain in Vol sans Battement which is the latest one developed and consequently the one I recommend because of the facility of light construction is a copy of another bird type. It is the reproduction of the structure: swift, swallow, frigate bird. The wings are shown singly instead of both of them. Both directions are a complete action. See chapter "Airplanes" of Vol sans Battement, and you will find there all necessary construction details.

This is the method which must be tried out. The delicate points are the harness and the equilibrium of the tension of the rubber bands. Build it with a surface as large as possible. The size will be indicated by the characteristics of the materials you use. If you have aluminum, use it, instead of bamboo, for similar conical tubes. If there is a proper solder actually available, which I do not know, fig. 1 could be produced by means of soldering a bent rod at the points A and B. If not, rivets may be used as shown in fig. 2.

Pg.51 Fig. 1 and Pg.51 Fig.2

I have touched aluminum twice. On a small scale I have some trinkets of this metal; it is as resistant as iron and light as porcelain. It is the metal for aviation. I also have seen it in Paris at the Aluminum Co. There I have weighed large pieces. Their weight is extraordinary light. One is conformed when one lifts them. And to think that I have not been able to make use of this marvel: 80 or 120 francs per kilogram, I do not remember exactly which. This is the only disadvantage of this metal. The Aluminum Co. buys it back at approximately the same price, provided it has not been soldered. Nothing is easier for them than to cut down the price if one wants to resell it. In case you have no bamboo on hand, I cannot recommend this metal too highly to you. The two control surfaces of the airplane which are the principal parts, would not weigh more than 5 kilograms or 2.5 kilograms each at 14 meters for both. It could be built completely with less than 10 kilograms of aluminum. The weight of the silk covering is negligible. No matter which method of construction you employ, try the airplane, before finishing it under the load of the aviator. Then, when you are satisfied with the lifting power and you have the airplane completed, investigate the effect due to the weight of the operator on the carrying surface, before testing the machine. For this purpose I refer you to the paragraph "Form of the airplane under pressure" which I recommend you to make use of, to enable you to arrive at something important in the carrying surface.

These various machines, especially the latter, represent exactly flight without flapping wings: rigid wings cannot flap. I never heard it said that one had dared to apply for a patent on a rigid airplane; i.e., one which is unable to beat the air with its wings. It is up to you, dear Sir, to judge this case. It is a protective measure to patent this theory before it is published. I do not believe that the fact that I was the father of this idea will be disputed.

I have got to stop, because I am tired. The thermometer reads 42° C, which is too hot to think clearly.

The high-speed railroad gives me much to think about. I shall write you in the near future on this subject. Besides I have to give a reply to several questions you asked me. I am not going to send my book in this mail, because I have to read it over again and make some corrections. It will follow a little later.

18 August 1891

Letter from Louis-Pierre Mouillard to Octave Chanute - Missing

5 September 1891

Octave Chanute to Louis-Pierre Mouillard

I went to the country, and hardly had I translated a quarter of the first part of your book when I received word to come to New York in reference to an important job.

I spent there almost the entire month of August and on my return I found your three letters of July 11th, 16th and 21st. Today I received yours of August 18th, also the second part of your book.

I have to go back to New York tomorrow and so will not have time to write you a long letter; but I shall do so soon.

Probably you have heard of Ader's experiments near Paris, but I am mailing you all I was able to procure pertaining to them, just the same. It seems to me that he tried gliding flight and that he had difficulties to overcome. I should like to have your opinion about it.

I am just finishing an article for a periodical in which I speak of you.

I am carrying your ship and your lubricator with me, in order to show them to the experts in such matters.

Cairo, 22 September 1891

Louis-Pierre Mouillard to Octave Chanute

I just received your letter and hasten to answer it. Thousand thanks for having taken my ship and its attachments along with you to New York. My most ardent wishes of success are with you. I shall have so much need of a little comfort in order to demonstrate to all concerned the truth of the contents of my two books.

From Mr. Langley I received his study on the resistance of the air. At the same time the mail brought me the August issue of L'Aeronaute whose first article contains a variety of disparaging remarks about this book, a fact which was far from pleasing me. What was the idea of Hureau de Villeneuve? In my letter of acknowledgement and thanks to Mr. Langley I could not resist to point out to him that not all Frenchmen share the opinion of the Société de Navigation Aerienne; ‹ this was only fair. When you get back to Chicago, please read this article, it certainly will displease you.

To these people I do not exist. As far as I personally am concerned, this is a trifle, but as to soaring flight, that changes matters entirely. Soaring flight is an actual fact, and unless one is entirely stupid and absolutely blind one must admit it. But don't you see, it comes from Egypt and not from that small club in Rue d'Amsterdam!

I am discussing aviation with you, yet I do not like to converse about it, because it seems to me perhaps unjustly so that your letter expresses a kind of fear that my book might arrive after the solution of the execution of this problem.

Let us consider the matter. First of all the person at the window of the machine shown in "L'Illustration" is not Ader at all, but me. This accidental resemblance created much fun in Cairo. Furthermore, more seriously, what kind of a machine is it, which in its outlines resembles very much theoricure vulture on page 1 of L'Empire de l'Air? Is it a flapping wing machine? One may guess so by noting the two rods which stick out in front and in the rear of the opening. What kind of a propeller made of feathers is this, a thing impossible in mechanics? Where is the machine which it actuates? This drawing is a fantasmagoria nothing else. The same may be said of the article in the Figaro. Whom is he going to make believe that the gyps fulvus come down at the call of these Arab women; this cry (u - u) is a cry of joy during the festival. Men never use it, because to do so one must be a high soprano. There is in all Algeria no bird with a wing span of 2.75 meters, and he has seen one of three meters at the first glance. This is pure humbug. If you want the true facts, depend on my book, it contains no falsehood; if a measurement is given, it is very accurate and very correct. When he saw my bird studies, drawings and calculations in support of this claim, Drzewiecki was nonplussed. He admitted his surprise, to be confronted by documents whose voracity may be trusted explicitly.

Furthermore, had he (Ader) hit upon a perfect engine and propeller, the least he could have done was to adapt them to a dirigible airplane. Through L'Empire de l'Air, he knows about vertical control, but horizontal control is in your possession only. And unless you suppose that he has caught the first sight of a large vulture, he is just taking a stab at it. I have spent more than ten years trying to understand this control; wouldn't it be surprising if he understood its form at first sight? As to discovering this control elsewhere, I admit that I do not know where it may be encountered. At any rate, not in the files of L'Aeronaute. The same is true of Trouve's little plug socket. This is a particular application of Bourdon's air pressure gage, but from there to the theory of soaring flight created by God and recorded by your servant long ago is quite a step. After "Vol sans Battement" is published, airplanes could be built, but with L'Empire de l'Air alone, such a task would not be easy, especially at the first attempt.

It seems to me, with no false pride, that you may continue with the translation. I have the advantage of the life of an observer.

I have read once more the article below the drawing. It is very well founded. I am entirely of the same opinion as the writer who signs himself with the initials G. M.

28 October 1891

Octave Chanute to Louis-Pierre Mouillard

I received your letter of September 22 just as I was about to give you a report of the results of my transactions in New York.

I believe that it will not be too long before your boat and your rotation indicator may be disposed of profitably. However, it takes time to find a man with money who would be willing to defray the expenses necessary for the preliminary tests. Fortunately very much attention is paid at present in America to the shape of ships. On the Great Lakes a new whale-back type ship is being built, and on the Hudson river two yachts of a different type have been built, the "Norwood" and the "Vamoose" which have extraordinary speeds. Therefore, as the idea for something new has taken hold, I believe that we shall find somebody to try out your model. I am sending you all the information I could get on this subject.

I think it would be better to start with your "lubricator" when there is a possibility of getting a patent for it. For this purpose I have been in Washington to get some information on really competent patent attorneys (for there are many inefficient ones) and I have taken up the matter with Mr. Whittlesey who, to me, seems to be just the man we need. According to the American law, only the inventor has the right to take out a patent and his signature is needed for this purpose. In case the preliminary examinations show that the idea is patentable, I suggest having the necessary papers made out in your name and to send them to you for your signature. The laws of other maritime countries are such that the best manner of procedure would be to retain the American patent at the patent office (one has the right to do so for six months) so that it is not made public before the patent claims are applied for in Europe.

I asked a friend of mine who has a small steam yacht to make preliminary tests on greasing the hull with crude oil. I shall inform you of the results.

Within a few days I shall write you again to take up the other subjects of your letter.

16 November 1891

Octave Chanute to Louis-Pierre Mouillard

On the subject of your "lubricator" Mr. Whittlesey writes me as follows: "I believe that the enclosed patent No. 429,125 anticipates Mr. Mouillard's invention. It is true that in this patent the distribution pipe is not fixed permanently on the ship, but considering that Gregory's patent No. 303,999 shows a pipe running along the ship's outline to distribute oil for calming the waves, it seems to me that the patent office will decide that attaching a pipe permanently to accomplish the purpose is not a new invention, as shown in Freeborn's patent No. 429,125." I am sending you these two patents.

Mr. Whittlesey's reasoning does not seem correct to me, so I wrote him again to reconsider the matter.

One can always get a patent by making such a trifling claim that the patent office cannot refuse it. This is what you ordinarily get by employing cheap lawyers, because they sacrifice the interest of their clients in order to collect the fees. But if I can get you a patent, it must be good and valid in order to prevent infringement.

Have these patents translated and give me your opinion.

Consider also different ways to obtain the same result; for if experiments show that the cost of the crude oil used is less than that of the burned coal, the idea should have some value.

16 November 1891

Octave Chanute to Louis-Pierre Mouillard

Professor Langley asks me if it would give pleasure if a naturalist of the Smithsonian Institution would write an article on the flight of the birds, giving quotations from the L'Empire de l'Air and the Vol sans Battement. This publication would only be scientific and you wouldn't get anything out of it but renown.

Considering your book like a "fidei commis," I cannot show it without your permission, but I don't see any disadvantage in showing the purely descriptive parts. Even for the other parts, I have such faith in Mr. Langley that I should be happy to be able to communicate to him all your ideas so that together we could try to find out what profit can come of it.

There are some among them that could be offered to the Government, for instance, the large boat, and Mr. Langley has such a high place in Washington that his help would be invaluable.

I am afraid you think that I don't act quickly enough in your interest, and I wish to hasten the realization of your hopes.

27 November 1891

Letter from Louis-Pierre Mouillard to Octave Chanute - Missing

Cairo, 10 December 1891

Louis-Pierre Mouillard to Octave Chanute

This is my answer to your other letter. Dear Sir, I am telling you again what I already wrote you several times before: you are entirely at liberty to do whatever you think is for the best. However, in the present case I must confess that I am flattered and glad to hear that you got in touch with Mr. Langley. I have not the honor of knowing the President of the American Institute; I am not in any position to judge him but in spite of myself and without the shadow of an effort, thanks to you, I put myself under his kind protection. Please do share with him everything, absolutely everything I confided in you pertaining to aviation and maritime ideas. When ever you have a chance to see him or write him I beg of you to be kind enough to convey my deep gratitude for the interest he has shown so generously. Perhaps I should thank him directly myself but I do not wish to bother him with any letter of mine. I was bold enough to write him when I thought he was concerned, but since it is my turn now to be so it is quite different.

15 December 1891

Letter from Louis-Pierre Mouillard to Octave Chanute - Missing

On to 1892