1895 correspondence between
Octave Chanute and Louis Pierre Mouillard

January 4, 1895

Octave Chanute to Louis-Pierre Mouillard

I received your kind letter of December 11 on the 25. I wrote immediately to the Pittsburgh Company and I just received their answer. Your modification came too late and the order was just filled. They will add the extra sheet of hard aluminum that you asked for the tubes and the whole order will leave Pittsburgh today for New York.

I am leaving for New York tomorrow (I have other business there) to look after the shipment to Egypt and I'll write you from there. I don't know yet if the sheets will be flat or rolled.

I'm not going to Mexico. One of my wife's sisters died there suddenly and her brother-in-law came back very sick. I'll go with my wife to the South, but we have not yet decided about the place. I hope that there will be gliding birds there.

I sent you a blueprint proving that others have thought of the aerial velocipede and I shake your hands.

Chicago, February 7, 1895

Octave Chanute to Louis-Pierre Mouillard

I find here your kind letter of December 20 on my return from New York, from where I wrote you two letters regarding your aluminum which must be in Genoa by now.

I stopped in Washington to consult Mr. Whittlesey and I found out that we are in better position regarding the European patents than I thought before. According to American law we still have an appeal to the General Commissioner from the decision of the Chief Examiners and we have two years for that, from November 24, 1894. Consequently, instead of putting the patent in the Secret Archives, which would give us only 6 months to take the European patents, I told Mr. Whittlesey to answer neither yes nor no to the decision of the chief examiners and to do nothing in Europe.

Now it is up to you to fly in a practical way before two years are over and according to your degree of success we will judge of the expense to be made in order to protect the invention in the different countries. I advise you to patent in France, in Germany, and in England, but I have my doubts about the other countries because it happens very rarely that an inventor at his first try has a machine so practical and sure that it will be copied at once. As you say very aptly, the essential thing is the doing; it still remains to fly.

Doubtless you are weighing continuously changes and improvements. Keep them secret (even from me if you want) so that you cannot be copied at once if you succeed. We will put them afterward in the European patents.

But you can show your machine to my friend Charles S. Smith in all confidence. He is an honorable man but he doesn't know what's on. I think he will be in Cairo around March 9.

During my stay in New York I spent a day with Colonel King, Chief of the Torpedo Station of the American Army at Millet's Point. I told him under secrecy the description and what is behind your torpedo. I wanted to know definitely what to think. He thinks that it is very ingenious but impracticable. He had mines exploding under water for me to see and he proved to me that the concussion propagates so far and so quickly across the water that the operator 50 meters away would certainly be killed. The fish are killed in great numbers. If the operator jumps from his torpedo farther than 50 meters the Colonel King thinks that he will miss his aim nine times out of ten, especially if the enemy boat is moving or if there are waves. He acknowledged the difficulties that must be overcome in letting go an electric torpedo just under the surface with a chair on it occupied by a sailor; the smallest wave would make it deviate from the course.

He says there would be men who would risk it if there were five chances to ten to save one's life, but he thinks the first experiments would be the last ones with your machine .

Chicago, February 3, 1895

Octave Chanute to Louis-Pierre Mouillard

Having made in New York the personal acquaintance of Mr. Herring, and having found him to be an engineer of great merit, very skillful with his hands, I decided to let him construct a machine of natural size to try out my idea. It is different from yours, of which I wrote to you in my letters, especially those of June 15 and August 16, 1894.

I am sending you under separate cover a blueprint of these drawings. The plan indicates 16 wings, each 1.8 m long and 0.7 m wide, superimposed two by two. The cut indicates the counter winding, a St. Andrew's cross.

As I have told you, these wings are pivoted on the prolongation of the stems in steel in two frames 4.37 m in length and 25 mm in thickness, which are entirely covered with balloon linen, and thus form two vertical keels. They are inclined to the lower end 5° on the vertical, and the wings also form an angle of 5° each on the horizontal. That arrangement is to provide transverse equilibrium. The girders are louvered everywhere, except at space A, where the operator stands. He supports the machine with a strap passing over his shoulders at first, but once propelled he either keeps standing on small boards (running board) that are on each side, or he sits on a strap (see broken lines) and the girders are under his armpits. You can see that I borrowed from you the idea of the metal spring S,S,S,S for which an elastic rubber could be substituted t,t,t,t. If one uses the metallic spring, the adjustment would be made by the rods, R,R,R,R and all wings that are connected by the rods B,B,B so that a movement started by one pair of superimposed wings is transmitted to the whole system.

The manner of making the joints is shown in natural size and a second construction of wings is indicated below. The ribs are of bamboo, but the girders are of light wood with steel braces. The scale of the drawing is 2 feet = 1 inch, or 1/24th natural size. The curving of the front of the wings is obtained through the tension of a brass wire, which joins the tip end of the master bamboo with the first bamboo across (the one behind) and the two fit into a groove of metal through which the rod passes. This construction seems defective to me and I expect to modify it.

Mr. Herring will first make me a model 3/8th natural size, to make experiments in equilibrium and resistance with; and if these tests indicate an advantage over the Lilienthal system (which he has used up to now), we will proceed to building.

I have always believed that the system of multiple wings was worth experimenting with. I indicated this to you in one of my first letters, several years ago. I would be glad to get your criticism regarding the machine, primitive though it is, of which I am sending the drawing. The wings, naturally, are concave-convex and you will see that I imitate the cut of the forward edge of the wing of the glider, which I pointed out to you two years ago.

Cairo, February 24, 1895

Louis-Pierre Mouillard to Octave Chanute

I have just received the box of aluminum in good condition. It seems to me that it is exactly what I requested only I believe that the aluminum wire will be insufficient; but as perfection does not come in this world I have to declare that I am satisfied, Now to work!

I hope that I will not weaken. As I will proceed progressively in the experiments, I believe that the obstacle of the free space below me will be relatively easy to conquer. I know the sensation from being up in a balloon, but I humbly confess that it is because I didn't dare to say "Stop"; finally I saw it and there frankly only the first step is difficult, the rest is easy. One feels more at home at 1000 m than at 100 m. I have strongly thought and studied during these times the down to-earth question, that is, the money question. It is a horrible thing, but absolutely indispensable in order to do still better! I believe I have solved it through this machine, even as an airplane merely for demonstration. By this method the voyage to the Pole and the lessons to the aviators are put far behind. From the first kilometer accomplished I will need your financial knowledge and I will need you for ... but really, dear Sir, it is too much like selling the hide of the bear before having killed it. Still in spite of all I am happy to have solved this question of slight importance to my great satisfaction; it would have been extremely ridiculous not to be able to make use of one's first steps in aviation.

Tomorrow I'll begin with great speed the putting together of what has already been done with what still has to be done.

It is strange, but although it is a very dangerous problem, I have not the least apprehension of an accident.

Cairo, February 25, 1895

Louis-Pierre Mouillard to Octave Chanute

So I am condemned to criticize your work. I submit to it only because you asked for it, but much against my wish. It is such a subtle matter, a criticism that it takes nothing less but the remembrance of your kindness to me to make me do it. This implies therefore that what I am going to say is exactly what your very devoted friend is thinking.

Your description is not complete. I don't get from it whether you will construct a glider or a rower. It seems to me that it is this latter type that you want to reproduce. In that case I ask where is the motor? I also ask you how one will get up a carrying speed.

It also seems to me that your model is the dragonfly and that you wish to do occasionally some gliding as this insect does at rare moments.

Starting from these thoughts I find that the displacement of the center of gravity which produces the vertical direction is not large enough for it is only equal to the displacement forward or backward of one single pair of wings and is not four times that of one pair of wings. So you must forcibly depend a great deal on the action of the tail. It will certainly act but only in the case of a strong wind if it is motionless or when the speed of the machine is sufficient.

Like everybody else, I too have looked at this interesting being, the dragonfly, with a great deal of curiosity; here is what I saw. First a flyer of absolutely infinitesimal size, very difficult to study, which by his small mass and his muscular resources poses at every instant problems of flight that one can only solve by attributing to his corneous (horny) muscles an activity which the long muscles of the big mammals can never produce. Look at her while she is in the act of chasing; there is where her faculties develop, which you certainly don't want to reproduce. But this act does indicate, however, her enormous power as a rower in the cases she has to overcome the difficulties of the long course flight, among others those given by a too active wind for her small size. She is very difficult to study in this case because owing to her small size and her transparency, she is at once out of sight.

What I have guessed rather than perfectly seen in this case is that she produces the vertical direction (which is according to my judgment the insufficient act in your machine) through an active forward shifting of the mass by bending back her abdomen, the heavy part of her being either below or above and making it at the same time do a directing action by scraping on the air as the tail of the bird does. The horizontal direction has not been perceived by my weak human eyes and I don't believe either that other humans could have distinguished it. So one is forced to reconstruct it by thought. If I were a dragonfly I would use the torsion (twisting) of the wings to the side where I wanted to fly and the acceleration of the pair of wings to the opposite side, acts which are difficult to reproduce.

There is one point that I don't understand in the drawing. Your description speaks about sixteen wings and I only see eight. Let us assume for a moment just what I see - four pairs of wings. We will have a machine impracticable as for length, or built elongated on which are fastened eight or four pairs of wings. For a rower that may do, at least I hope so, but I must say that I find no precedent in nature to convince myself. As a glider nothing approaches this form.

The dragonfly is not made like that (for I believe that I'm not wrong in supposing that you copy this paradoxical model); the dragonfly is, when one looks at it from the viewpoint of aviation, shorter than she would seem at first. Her two pairs of wings are very close to each other; first difference with the system that you recommend. There she comes close to the bird with his one pair of wings; she gives the illusion of having two pairs, but without a great effort of thinking one can, owing to the closeness of these organs, consider them as linked to each other. Moreover, this great length of body is only fictitious, for we have just seen that it can be reduced and that she can even make use of it to direct herself.

It is probably this great necessary length of abdomen that made nature give her a great breadth of wing. As it was a great difficulty in construction, especially because it must be combined with a swiftness necessary to an animal living from the prey that she must catch in flight. Nature has split the wing and transformed the inactive outer wing into a nearly perfect wing. So I believe that I am right in saying that, from the viewpoint of an aviation mechanic, the dragonfly is only one pair of wings.

What kind of balance will be produced by this enormous length of your whole machine, whose ratio of length to width is less than 25 1/2 to 17? It is very hard to establish it mentally; I do not find out how one will keep up the horizontally of the ensemble except by giving it an activity in propulsion that will permit the action of the tail to become sufficient to keep it up at every moment. So this machine will become through this method of reasoning an excessive rower; it will produce gliding only after the acquired speed has been attained. Simple ascension is impossible on account of its shape, but it can be produced, even I believe with advantage, under the action of a light push.

While at rest, which means not projected to go, it becomes a parachute with undetermined falling habits, as for example a cigar balloon of which the propeller is stopped and which therefore has nothing left to keep it horizontal. It therefore lifts at random the front or the rear in the air as well as moving horizontally. This is in short what I think that this aviation machine will produce. Pushed by a strong enough propeller, having horizontal equilibrium by means of an angle of the wings slightly in V and a tail of action sufficient to produce vertical equilibrium, this machine will fly because it unites the two conditions necessary to the station in the air. The preceding considerations had only the one aim to look for the mode of translation that it will have, for the "How it will behave in the air." According to the attentive observation of the different forms of flyers that I could see, it follows that it will move like the being which it most resembles as a whole ‹ it is without argument the dragonfly! It will therefore have the qualities and the faults of this neuropterous insect, which means as quality of great swiftness, but as a fault a forced rectilinearity of the course, just as the very elongated boat comports itself which has great swiftness but turns with great difficulty.

There remains a great number of details of construction; small difficulties which are destined to be overcome one after the other by an ingenious engineer.

Cairo, March 28, 1895

Louis-Pierre Mouillard to Octave Chanute

I have the pleasure to announce to you that I received the visit of Mr. C. Sooy Smith who gave me your kind letter. Unfortunately due to indisposition of your compatriot and to his early departure the visit was single and brief. I couldn't enjoy his company. We limited ourselves to talking about you; concerning this he told me so much good about you that I find the time long before I can see you. We had time only to find out that I have so many kites (small birds) in sight that the study of aviation is an easy thing for me.

He was in such a hurry that I couldn't show him my machine whose parts were scattered at the constructor's shop. He had arrived at Cairo some days ago and had to stay in bed until his departure. He asked at the last moment if they knew me; by chance he just asked a porter at his hotel who had been my clerk and who had him shown directly to me; it is due to this chance that I met him.

The easiest way to get into contact, if the occasion presents itself that you again send me somebody, is that as soon as they arrive to inform me by mail; the mailman comes twice a day and I am posted at once.

On the other hand I have to tell you that I have given up the aluminum. To give up this metal on which I had founded so many hopes is a serious thing. Here is what happened when I had it in large quantity in hand: After feeling and testing it I saw that I had been mistaken that it was brittle, folded with difficulty, weighed 2.75. It is needless to tell you how hard it was for me to give up this beautiful dream. There happened what always happens to me, although I am a dreamer, when I get a blow, I turned around with good sense. I thought again of the wood that I had despised so much and that has its good points, I remarked what I had put out of my mind, that a strong bamboo of 4 m carries me perfectly and weighs 5 kg while an aluminum beam weighs 9 or 10 and is entirely unknown to me as to its strength; finally that I was to produce a monstrous wolf of 200 kg weight, while with the wood and the bamboo I gain 29 kg, a difference of 75 kg. So I turned around at once, had a carpenter's workbench put up in my room and this morning the body (the frame) waits for the iron fixings which are late. My helper, my smith who hadn't seen me for several days, came to see me. He found himself faced with this nailed frame, glued, in place and waiting for him to have finished. But, my dear Sir, my hands are in a strange state. Useless to say that I am not good in carpentering, still it came off. In fact I laugh about these abrasions of the skin, one has to go on and quickly. I wish very much to surpass this theoretical aviation, for I found a use for this airplane that is entirely up to my aspirations. Only in wood this machine doesn't stand the water and I should be in the sea. In fact if I finish this airship incomplete for the demonstration, we may hope that we will later get to construct one that will float.

. . . . . . . . . . . .

When Mr. Charles Sooy Smith returned to the United States he wrote Octave Chanute a long letter. The part of the letter that pertains to Mouillard is quoted below:

Green's Farms, Conn., April 29, 1895

My Dear Mr. Chanute:

You will, I think, be interested to hear of my visit to your Cairo friend, who, while I saw him but once, seemed to me quite unique in his way. I had expected to look him up soon after reaching Cairo but I was temporarily laid up as a result of too much pyramids, etc. and did not see him until just before I left. The porter of my hotel knew him and so I went direct to his house. He lives at the top of the highest house in Cairo with the birds flying about his windows. We started off at once talking about his interest in aerial flight. You have doubtless heard that he has given up the thought of aluminum and turned to bamboo as the best suited material for his purposes. He spoke with much regret at not being able to use the plates you sent. The machine he had, had come to grief so I saw nothing. He told me how he had come to take up the study and from his window showed me by far the best opportunity I ever saw of studying the flight of birds. The slow steady motion of those vultures (if such they be) coming so close to his window above, below, and opposite gave an ideal view at close range. He said they all knew him and one or two he seemed to single out as special friends.

He inquired very particularly about you and your family and I was surprised and interested when he told me that he had never met you and sketched the origin and growth of your friendship. Your photograph stood on his bureau. Coming pretty fresh from our practical American world, the man and his enthusiasms with strange surroundings made an impression not to be forgotten. It is pleasant to realize, as one can occasionally, that there are still many lofty minds working in the pure fields of science not yet too much hampered by immediate utilitarian ends......................

Sincerely yours, Charles Sooy Smith

Cairo, April 14, 1895

Louis-Pierre Mouillard to Octave Chanute

I returned from a short excursion and I found your sad letter. Is not life cruel, my dear Sir. To raise a child, make a man out of him, to see him prosper and finally to lose him, see him disappear when everyone depends on him. Why? It is so to persuade us that everything goes haphazardly down here.

I understand Diogenes and the stoics and even the Nihilists. Nihil. There is nothing. The globe down here goes around, but certainly God doesn't lead it, or else the order of things would be less incoherent than it is and one wouldn't see the young head of a family disappear when his children need him. Forgive these reflections, but it is revolting to see a world so stupidly led.

If I dared I would ask you, although I don't know them, to give to all your afflicted ones my condolences very absolutely sincere, of this misfortune that crushes them and to you, my dear Sir. In fact, what can one tell a father who loses his son. There is only to submit and to say: Fate wanted it so, whom should I blame?

I share the desolation in which you must find yourself, and yours, and advise you to work hard. That is a powerful antidote for sorrow and gives one a few moments without suffering; in a word, it is a help.

My airplane satisfies me except the slowness with which the construction proceeds. It is very difficult to go quickly in this country where there is nothing.

Adieu, dear Sir, I don't know how to express the part I take in your sorrow.

April 18. 1895

Octave Chanute to Louis-Pierre Mouillard

I have just received your kind letter of February 28.

I hear with pleasure that you have decided to use wood and bamboo for your machine, for not only is wood lighter for equal strength, but I think that you will have to reconstruct several times before achieving a satisfying success. As always I wish you good luck.

I suppose that you can sell your aluminum without loss. The government must need some.

I am very intrigued by the use that you will make of your machine to earn money. In your letter of February 25 you tell me that you have solved this question to your great satisfaction and in that of March 28 you say that you have to be on the sea to use it. I try to guess and I only find piracy.

I had earnestly recommended to Mr. Sooy Smith to send you a word by mail as soon as he arrived. It seems that the climate of Cairo makes one forgetful, for he has done like Mr. Scott last year to whom I had recommended the same thing. The latter just died suddenly in New York from a stroke and I send you a newspaper clipping.

The second model of my demonstration machine is nearly finished, and we will make experiments to determine the position of the center of pressure at the different angles of incidence. If they succeed, I count on going on to the construction of the machine in large size.

You were supposed to send me the description of your own machine. Receiving nothing I thought that perhaps you changed your plans in the course of construction, but if you are satisfied now and don't see any inconvenience, I should be glad to know with what you are going to throw yourself in the air.

P.S. Give me also the solution that "Babs" found of the situation described on p. 106 of L'Empire de l'Air.

May 3, 1895

Octave Chanute to Louis-Pierre Mouillard

Of all the letters of these months which have expressed their sympathy on behalf of the premature death of my son, no one has been as heartfelt as yours. I feel that I have gained your esteem and your friendship, and I thank you for your kind words.

As you advised me, I buried myself in work, and I begin to forget the blow that struck me although there remains a great pain. I submit and I work, for the world is governed by general rules which don't take into account the good or the bad; it is still possible for the individual to do something good for others by making use of one's capacities.

Let me know when you hope to begin your experiments. You know that I still keep another sum of 2500 fr. at your disposition in case of need.

Cairo, May 10, 1895

Louis-Pierre Mouillard to Octave Chanute

I mail today a roll of business papers to your address containing: seven pages of an article in which there is explained the worthy deed of my dog, and three note books where I have written my thoughts on the use that I could make of the airplane. Please excuse me for sending you notes written in pencil. I wrote them for myself only, but it is so long and so tiresome to copy oneself that I take the liberty of sending you my notes the way they come out of my pen or rather my pencil. I beg you to return them when you will have read them.

I cannot at the moment have a photo made of my airplane because it is strewn over different places. As soon as I'll have it completely or at least completely enough to be comprehensible, I will have the photo taken and I will send it to you. That will be soon. Regarding the inconveniences that I may have to divulge what is for me your possession, I do not see any as I know exactly that I don't have to be afraid of an indiscretion.

I see that I am forced to wait for the winter to make my flying experiments. I shall not be finished for three months, and that will be just when the cooler weather sets in. I am going to be the judge of my own courage and it is discouraging to see how little there is of it. I shall proceed progressively and shall try to avoid as much as possible the disagreeable surprises occasioned by too strong a wind; but, in the end, one has to submit one's self if one wants to fly. There is certainly a frightening effort of will power to be put forth, but there is no other way; to vanquish the horror of empty space is absolutely necessary. I'll submit to it with all possible skill, but anyhow I will submit. I was delayed so long in life that I am forced to take a terrible leap to join the rank to which I think I am entitled.

I beg you again, dear sir, to excuse my pencil. I decided to send it to you because I remembered the proverb: Time is Money.

May 30, 1895

Octave Chanute to Louis-Pierre Mouillard

I received from Mr. Karl Milla, aviator from Vienna, a booklet in which he proposes the same method as you to change the position of the center of pressure, by advancing and retracting the end of the wings. It is indeed the method recommended by D'Esterno but the Germans will study it more seriously.

My own experiments to realize automatic equilibrium have not at all succeeded. Mr. Herring made me two models, one with 16 wings, and a second (1/3 of natural size) of 12 wings. These wings do harm to each other, because of the wake which makes the first pair of wings support much more than the following wings, and that the center of pressure varies nearly as much as if the surface were not interrupted by the space between the wings. I would have tried other combinations of multiple wings, but Mr. Langley has just now taken Mr. Herring away from me by paying him twice as much as he was getting from me for his own experiments. I offered to Mr. Langley to tell him about my studies if he would do the same exchange later but he has refused, saying that he could not give the impression that he owes another some ideas that he himself has conceived.

He has succeeded in producing several trips of his steam engine, propelling by a propeller an airplane of Pineau type. The one of 60 meters, the other, they say of 300 meters, but equilibrium is missing in the wind and he is going to reconstruct his machine completely. Mr. Herring has been engaged for that.

The circumstances may warrant that we withdraw the American patent from the state of delay that you know, in order to take patents in Europe. I send you a power of attorney that will enable me to do it. Please be kind enough to sign it in the presence of the United States Consul before two witnesses, and send it back to me. I'll then take the patent in our two names each one owning half of it. You will remember that the former convention is in general terms which doesn't authorize me to put my name in the American patent.

I wait with impatience for the description of your first trials. I have received nothing from you since April 14.

June 8, 1895

Octave Chanute to Louis-Pierre Mouillard

I received a few days ago your kind letter of May 10 and your business papers and I return these in a roll, registered.

I congratulate you on having found so many applications for your airplane. If it succeeds it will be necessary to make a list of these uses to be published in the catalog and follow the industrial method which consists of leasing out with a royalty instead of selling a machine that promises great gains. That is frequently done in the U. S.

Naturally if you succeed you cannot exploit all these projects yourself. I even believe that all your time will be taken up in perfecting the machine, in fighting the imitations, and in keeping track of the fundamental, the useful, and the incidental results.

All these, for the present, are midsummer dreams. The essential thing is to succeed, afterward we'll put the dreams in action, really and truly industrialized, by organizing companies that will give out shares. I believe that they would sell well, with the help of imagination.

I was altogether charmed by your seven leaflets of articles. You are unexcelled when you tell anecdotes about animals. All these should be incorporated into your book, at the places that need to be enlivened.

I acknowledge that your dog Bobo was more intelligent than I am. I had found out that he had jumped on the back of the calf, but I asked myself how he could avoid flattening it. Only the thing is a delicate matter to explain, and it seems to me that I'd simply say that the dog took hold of the calf with his fore legs. You know that we are very prudish in America.

As I told you before, a photo can only give me a very imperfect idea of your machine, but as I have already made the experiments that I explained to you and as I can make others later on, I prefer now not to know the details of your machine before the success. I hope that this will be soon, but I imagine that you make changes according to the time that it takes.

You will certainly hear with pleasure that recently I have been elected an honorary member of the Society of Civil Engineers of Great Britain, a very important Society. The French and German Societies had already sent me tokens of their gratefulness for my services to the engineers during the Chicago exhibition.

Cairo, June 15, 1895

Louis-Pierre Mouillard to Octave Chanute

By keeping on our march we finally see the end of the road. I begin to perceive the end of this interminable airplane. I would never have figured that this would take so long to construct, still one would copy it in a week, but between copying and creating there is a far cry.

The body is scaffolded; it rests on two wheels. Too heavy these wheels! But I do not dare to make them lighter for the try-outs; one is so clumsy in making the first steps that I prefer an exaggeration of strength to too much lightness which would engender weakness.

What a collection of corrections I had and will still have to make, so I decided to keep on reenforcing, that means do all over again and in another system, the soul of the machine, the tube which carries the whole, the point where the wings are attached. It is the fourth change, and I think it is compulsory because it is decidedly too feeble. This done, there will be nothing left for me to do but to attach the carrying surfaces. That goes quickly.

In order to make the wings, I have two lovely bamboo of 4.17 m length and of 0.275 of radius at the thick end, 0.19 at the fine end and nearly exactly alike for curvature and weights. I put the two ends of one of these bamboos upon two chairs and I let myself be carried in the middle without the bend produced being disquieting. Never could the aluminum nor the steel pretend to produce such a feat of strength in resistance. I succeeded in obtaining as rudder tail feathers two bamboos that are absolutely similar as to strength and shape, one of 3.97 m length and 630g of weight and the other cut the same length and of 670g. When you have them in your hand their weight seems unbelievable; one can hold them with outstretched arms with an effort of 5 kg, in the other positions one can handle them easily with 2 fingers. For testing I put one on the shoulder, the fine end carried on the ground. I tried by an effort of the arms to break them. I only succeeded in curving them at a deviation of 0.50 m, but one must say that in spite of their minimum weight they have 0.10 m of perimeter at the base and are as thick as the thumb at the pointed end. They are it is true perfectly dry but I am sure---

I have just received your kind letter of May 30, 1895 and the power of attorney that I will have legalized tonight and return to you probably today. I don't know if you have observed that I don't tell anything to anybody neither by talking nor by writing; it seems as if I don't know how to write anymore. Your letter seems to indicate that you are in the same disposition. I believe that the time of conjecture is over and that production is starting, but to be fruitful one must not give to others the means that one uses.) So I go on with my letter -- that they have not 0.005 of thickness. The two big ones of which I have been talking to you are not yet dry, but I can tell you that exactly green they weighed together April 25, 12 x 626 gram. Weighed again the 25th of May their weight was only 7 x 284 g, lastly weighed again June 4 their weight had come down to 5989 g, always weighed together. They will not be in a state of complete dessication before two months. I hope that then they will not weigh more than 5 kg. These choice materials will make the construction of the carrying planes much easier which is certainly not yet an easy thing to produce. In a month I'll speak to you about the difficulties that I will have met.

In order to make them I have to find a place other than the one that I now occupy, that means a room of at least 12 m length instead of my bedroom that has only 3. I hope to have found it. As soon as it is mounted I'll have it photographed under different angles and I'll address it to you with the necessary explanations. Is it very prudent? A photo is so easily stolen. Please answer.

In your letter before last you had the kindness to tell me of a sum that you still hold at my disposition. Please allow me, dear Sir, to thank you again. I hoped that I wouldn't need it and would get along with the first 2300 fr that you had the kindness to send to me, but I didn't take into account a misfortune that befell me. I have been dismissed these days by the Administration of Public Works for interruption of work, a momentary interruption but I don't see the end of it coming before the return of the chiefs at the end of September. So I am forced to live now on the returns of the little herb shop and my meager savings as a clerk with 300 fr monthly, which means that I am afraid to be short for the finale. How shameful it is to be poor! It is absolutely a crime. But unfortunately it is like that. I must not hide it any longer if I don't want the airplane to suffer from it; for this machine will put in my hands and for the first time the serious means to direct my destiny, something that I never had before and which the other aviators haven't had any more than I. Lilienthal has reproduced my airplane No. 3 and has stopped his experiments for the same reasons as I, when he was persuaded that the control devices were insufficient and that he was heading inevitably for an accident. The present machine is certainly of those I have made the least bad as an airplane, although it is horrible and ought to be done all over again; it could be made over so quickly and in finitely better that often the temptation to do so comes over me and only the expense stops me.

This machine in spite of its imperfections will certainly produce at least the demonstration of two directions, vertical and horizontal. The demonstration of the strength of the support of the air has been done a long time ago. Now, it is to be hoped that while I am at it, I will dare to go further. I will be absolutely forced to produce "penetration" because the tryouts will necessarily be made by frontal wind and it is only later that I will dare to fly with a rear wind. As for ascension, it is not I who will attempt the first acts. It is the gust of wind that will force me in spite of myself to ascend. In order to escape this terrible gust of wind, I will be obliged to fight against it by pointing the tips rearward by means of the screw; by this action I will reach the point of equilibrium and will keep myself there. By this maneuver I will have avoided over turning and will have produced "aspiration", not as I produced it in Algeria, which furnished 42 meters by the goodwill of the wind (which matched my speed), the carrying plane, and coincidence with the center of pressure. This time I shall produce aspiration with full consciousness; the research of this point I shall obtain by means of the screws and also by an act of will; in short, just as the bird does. This result will not be accomplished easily nor at the first attempt; we may race ludicrous or tragic moments. I shall certainly not invite anybody to witness my first flights; I shall act progressively and carefully, being very certain that no accident will prevent further trials.

I count on finishing during the month of September. At that time the desert is livable; one can stay there nearly the entire day without fear of sunstroke. I have prepared a shelter for myself near Cairo, half an hour's drive in a carriage from the center of the city and in these good conditions there certainly lies helpful elements of success. I want to do everything that is possible. Only I tell you in advance that at the first serious flight I will wire you and I beg you to come.

I am grieved that I could not finish my task with the sum of money that you were kind enough to send me. I came as near to the goal as possible, but where I was mistaken ‹ or rather what I did not take into account ‹ was the expense needed to make the tests.

I beg you to excuse me, dear Sir, I am so worried to have to write you this letter; it is lucky for me that I am not right now on the testing field, for I should be strongly induced to commit a great imprudence.

The Consulate is closed in the evening; tomorrow is Sunday so I cannot have the paper legalized until Monday.

Cairo, 17 June 1895

Louis-Pierre Mouillard to Octave Chanute

You will find in this letter the deed that you sent me, legalized by the Consulate of the United States according to the rules that you indicated to me.

I confirm to you my letter of June 15 which will perhaps arrive together with this one.

Sincere handshake, Mouillard

7 July 1895

Octave Chanute to Louis-Pierre Mouillard

I received your letters of June 15 and 17, nearly at the same time, and I send you a draft No. 3358 on the Credit Lyonnais in Paris for 2500 fr.. I hope that it will be enough to lead you to success, but let not the money question induce you to do something reckless.

I read with great interest the details you give me on the material that you use. I advise you to get hold of seasoned bamboo - to have it dried.

If you think it unwise to send me the photographs of your machine, put them in trust with a friend, as a further proof of what you have done. Still, it is hardly to be feared that an indiscretion will happen except in Cairo, for once they are in the Post Office, your letters will not be opened again. But if you send me these pictures, mail the explanations in a later letter. Being of ordinary size, that letter would not be stolen like one containing the proofs. The pictures need not be mounted; I'll do that myself here.

I wrote to Mr. Karl Milla to know more exactly his idea. This leaflet shows a machine whose wings can be advanced and retracted on a pivot but he doesn't say if it is to do gliding or whether he means to add a motor. I asked him this question June 10 but have not received an answer yet.

Certainly if you succeed in the first tryouts, I'd be strongly tempted to go to Egypt, but I am not sure I will be able to do it at a fixed date. You would do well to tell me by mail what are the steps to be taken according to your judgment in order to take care of your rights. To me it seems that patents have to be taken in France, England, Belgium, Germany and Austria and perhaps in Russia; those are the countries where the machines can be fabricated. If they are fabricated in other countries we can forbid the sale in the countries where we have the patent.

There is another solution; it is to keep the secret of the machines and to sell this secret to the governments for war machines. Can one keep the secret? Can one use this machine for war?

July 21, 1895

Octave Chanute to Louis-Pierre Mouillard

I received a letter from Mr. Karl Milla of Vienna in which he tells me I can tell you that I have nearly completely finished a machine of my invention, at which I worked for years, which will be completely dirigible. I hope and trust that these provisions will be realized and I will let you know the results as soon as possible.

You are mistaken if you believe that I use a propulsive apparatus. I believe that human strength is amply sufficient to produce the necessary energy for flying, without the help of an outside energy - motor or wind. I believe that gliding flight is accessible to man, but I also believe that it needs an extraordinary skill, and that this manner of flying will not be achieved for a long time. Human energy is sufficient for flying, that means to get going, to keep the speed, and to rise obliquely. The only impossible thing is to rise vertically.

As you see, that is not very clear.

Cairo, July 24, 1895

Louis-Pierre Mouillard to Octave Chanute

I received yesterday your kind letter of July 7 and the draft No. 5358 of 2500 francs that was in it, for which I thank you with all my heart. With this sum I can determine at my leisure what this machine can do when directed by your servant.

What is new since my last letter is that I have located a perfect spot for what I have to do. For 25.25 francs per month I rented an old nunnery. I do not remember to which order it belonged but those nuns have great faith in me and I stay right in the midst of them. The place is huge; there are 20 rooms, all in ruins it is true, still there is space. I occupy only one room that is 6 meters wide and 15 meters long, and a large courtyard of 20 x 15 meters. So I can develop my wing spread, which is about 13 meters. The part of the convent that I occupy is haunted by ghosts. I am not much of a spiritualist, as you can find out by my writings; still, I confess to you that I have been greatly intrigued more than once.

It is an ancient Turkish palace, 250 years old; there are splendid ceilings in woodwork that are masterpieces of Arabian art; all this woodwork is cracking and crackling, reverberating sounds produced very far from there, mystifying the most skeptical man. I caught myself climbing 10 times to the upper floor which is uninhabited to see who was there and there was nobody. At last I found out why these quarters are unoccupied. It is an acoustic effect that mystified many people and especially the nuns who are very happy that I found a rational explanation of the noises that were so disquieting to them.

How difficult it is to make a flying machine. For every device one is up against a new problem. One thinks he knows this device very well, then if one goes on to the construction, one begins to be puzzled; what one is building does not stand up, is monstrous, too heavy or too weak and altogether does not work. One has to do it over again quickly and it is very seldom that by the second time one succeeds in doing something satisfactory. I may say that I have constructed more than three machines. Today or tomorrow two large hinges in sheet steel will be completed. I had them done over again for the fourth time. The two large bamboos that I liked so well which I told you about have been abandoned on account of weakness. I was obliged to replace them by two other bamboos very much stronger. They are real girders, 4.30 m long and 0.15 in diameter, weight about 10 kg for the two. It is always the gigantic bamboo that is inimitable in firmness; the metallic tubes do not by far approach this resistance and this lightness.

I count on having finished and being able to proceed to the tryouts at the beginning of the cool season, that is the end of September. There are certainly some precautions to be taken against stealing. I am afraid of the practitioner, my clerk, who has to construct all the iron devices. He is an Italian. The smiths and mechanics here are all Italians; they speak an idiom among themselves and are laborers. I believe that before the experimentation we should make a deposit at the French Consulate and perhaps the American of the description and the drawings of the machine. In the experimentation, which will take time, I will try seriously when I am alone with Arabs who are of no importance; so if I have to try I'll take advantage of that moment and I am not going to do anything as long as there are intelligent witnesses around. The secret of the machine can not be kept; there is this Italian aide who knows it as well as I do; but there is one thing that baffles him. He is conscious that I know flying by heart and that he does not understand it at all. There, I believe, is my real protection. As I do not instruct him on the theory of flight, he searches I see, but he does not understand anything about the equilibrium of the machine and about its control. My idea of disappearing as soon as the first take-off is made and to make studies at the Red Sea where there is nobody is based on this necessity of isolation. There I will need you absolutely for this war question; (read again carefully the last chapter of the L'Empire de l'Air - that will persuade you that I considered those questions); this isolation will be my strength and my protection; for without having acted, without having done any wrong, I have to be afraid of the Governments. Bad advice is inspired by fear. I must not be in their hands. I do not know how this question will be solved, or better how you will solve it, for once I have left I will try to be visible only for you and two other persons; and all that without having done anything reprehensible except killing some peepers (Puffins?) to get hold of money. It is a delicate point that requires long conversations and hard thinking. It is for this reason that at the first shadow of success we should meet. If you cannot go to Cairo, I can now travel and come to the United States.

This is becoming serious and will be more so right after the first kilometer covered. Now there cannot be any question of retreating.

Chicago, Ill., August 17. 1895

Octave Chanute to Louis-Pierre Mouillard

I have your kind letter of June 24, and I have read with great interest the details you gave about your Turkish palace and of the tribulations of the construction of your machine. One does eventually get finished, if he just keeps on!

I believe that you worry too much about the intervention of any one government. Certainly the English will leave you in peace. The French will say that a machine that does not go when there is no wind, is not a war machine. As for the Egyptians, you know them. It is certainly difficult to project one's self by imagination into the unknown, but the evolution of gliding flight seems to resemble (on a large scale) the evolution of the bicycle, which took more than 30 years to become practical.

You will have some breakage in your first tryouts. You will have doubtful successes; some small ascensions with retardation; maybe even some semblances of aspiration; then a gust of wind on one side will make you descend in a hurry. You will break a wing. You must repair the machine. Then I hope that you will have a real success, and therefore it will be dangerous. Your machine is built in such a way that it will reach the ground before your body does. Lilienthal says that with a little skill one succeeds always in breaking the machine rather than one's own bones. You will perhaps do like he did: produce a certain sensation at the first serious success; then suffer a failure that will make you cry, "This business is a flop."

So I think that you would be entirely wrong if you were to disappear in the desert, where you would have neither the chances to repair your machine, nor the necessary care in case of sickness or accident. I believe the latter case is not very probable, because to me you appear to be very cautious and to have full knowledge of the experiment, but you have to think of every contingency.

If it were not for my wife, I would decide right now to come and see you this winter. But she is afraid of the ocean crossing for herself and, since my older son's death, I hesitate to leave her.

Well, we will see. Keep me informed of your progress.

August 22, 1895

Octave Chanute to Louis-Pierre Mouillard

Having read in a German advertisement that Lilienthal offered to sell duplicates of his machine for aviation, I wrote him in the name of an exhibition that will take place in Denver next year, to know his terms.

He answers me (August 6) that he wants to sell at the same time his American patents, including one that he is going to ask for. That he has recently added a combination to his machine that adds so much to the equilibrium that anybody can easily learn to use it, so that gliding will become a sport and that the machines will make commercial profit. I have asked for his price.

A certain number of Lilienthal machines have been sold in Austria, in France, and in England. The sport enthusiasts often fell on their noses, and the vogue was passing when Lilienthal added his combination. I have no idea what it can be, but I hope that yours is better. The city of Denver is at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, 400 miles from here. It is going to have an exhibition of its minerals and its industries that will open July 7, 1896. In order to attract the crowds, the Administration considers offering prizes for the best machines of aerial navigation. They have consulted me and I wrote to several people. If your machine succeeds, it would perhaps be useful to exhibit it in full action at this exhibition. The only objection is that the city is at an altitude of 1700 meters and the air is very light. Would you like to try it? Here is an occasion to avoid the governments that would want to put their hands on your war machine. From here you would be able to hold them at a distance.

Cairo, August 30, 1895

Louis-Pierre Mouillard to Octave Chanute

I have just spent a month working very hard. What a lot of work there is to bring to a good finish this big machine! My health is good, I fight against the heat and am able to do good work. By the end of September it will be as I told you well advanced, but how big it is and how heavy , I am speechless. I confess that it is the first time that I have seen such a big machine as this. I am faced every moment with the terrifying problem of the strength of the matter compared to its weight. I ask myself every moment: Will this carry me or will it not? If stronger it has to be heavier, and if it were weaker it would break.

I convince myself more and more that what I am producing cannot be anything else but a demonstration airplane; it is not perfect enough to consider getting much use out of it. But if, in fact, it will demonstrate only the gliding motion of a sailing plane and its main evolutions, I will be satisfied and a more perfected machine will soon be produced.

I made it large to be able to go as slowly as possible and by the feeblest wind, knowing by experience how afraid one is and how much one must beware of the irreducible fear of the instinct of self-preservation.

As you see, I do all I can in order to succeed. I take care to put as many trumps in my hand as I possibly can, but I acknowledge that I have harnessed myself to a redoubtable problem, especially this time when I do not preach in a platonic way for the others; but I am constructing for myself, I myself will be the operator, and that consequently I have to do the necessary things in order to succeed without breaking my neck. In short I have never had so many worries and work as I had during the past month.

At the end of September I'll have one or several photographs made of the machine and I will send them to you by insured mail. I am not much afraid of having it stolen for I am convinced that not only do you have to have a machine to produce flight, but also and even more so, possess the knowledge of flying, which is not learned in a hurry. Well, dear Sir, there is where I am standing now. I hope that I will not have any big miscalculations, because I believe that I weighed everything carefully. But there is a large part of the unknown that should not be stressed anymore than necessary; so I had a surprise that I did not expect, it is to see the framework of the wings in position, it means fixed to their chariot; it has a very curious effect. Certainly it is the greatest pair of articulated wings that has ever existed on the globe. It has more than 13 m of span and 30 square meters surface. And it holds together. And I strongly believe that it will carry the aforesaid 130 kg which I believe will reach well nigh 150 kg. The rest is action. We shall see that in a month.

Very proud and very happy to be satisfied with his work.

September 16, 1895

Octave Chanute to Louis-Pierre Mouillard

I have just received your kind letter of August 30. I deduced from it that you are satisfied with your work, but that you are speechless on account of its size and its weight, which will climb up to 70 or 90 kg.

Don't get discouraged, and if there are signs of weakness, trim bravely the spread of the wings. I am sending you the American Engineer of September in which you will find (pg.434) the drawings of Lilienthal's machine. The dimensions are in English feet and inches. The span is of 7 m, the carrying surface of 23.5 square meters without counting the two rudders, and the weight is 34.55 kg. This machine demonstrates only gliding. I hope that yours will make us perceive ascension, and perhaps aspiration.

You will receive these lines when you are about to start the experiments. I wish you good luck and much courage.

Cairo, October 7, 1895

Louis-Pierre Mouillard to Octave Chanute

I believe it will take another fortnight to finish this endless cover. How many thousands of stitches and strings one has to make. I had tried to obtain the help of seamstresses but I had to live it up because the women sew so badly and especially with so little solidity that I got upset more and more. Still I will be forced to get some help for I see that alone it goes too slowly.

I received your kind letter of September 16 and the American Engineer. It is just as I had supposed, nearly complete absence of the two directions, and it is this absence of directing facility that immobilizes him. Certainly it is not with this system that one can produce flight; the same thing that happened to me during my 42 m run must have happened to him. That means the ascertaining that one is getting lost, for one perceives clearly that one is not master of one's direction, that one is very nearly going by sheer luck, that as soon as the wind changes from its regularity one is in danger of being thrown over or knocked over, and, in short, it is a machine that has to be made over again, better pondered upon and better understood. He still has much to learn.

In mine, now that I see it well, I think that even being so imperfect and so crude it must be able to glide on the calm air as soon as it will have a speed of 7.50 m and maybe even less, meaning 5 meters; then, that it will be able by means of the displacing allowed by its construction (the angle permitted by the screw) to penetrate a current of 10 m, perhaps 12 m or 50. Certainly it is not sufficient as a general rule, but as I have already told you I could not from the first arrive at perfection. Still, as it is now, I hope to be able to produce interesting experiments. And this in spite of the fact that as soon as the weather will get too cool I must come down, in spite of the fact that I cannot venture to land on the water for fear of the calm that would make me fall into the sea and get drowned, for I don't float. There should be another system that is well established in my head, but I didn't believe and did not dare that I should begin with that one. I believe that a few kilometers of distance covered during the try-outs would permit to think about the creation of a society endowed with a capital that would permit me to construct at ease and to be able to begin again without hesitation. This will tell you that if I dared I would begin all over again in order to do better. In fact, creating something perfect at the first trial seems to me pure luck. Still, as it stands now, this airplane produces a strange effect on the persons who have seen it. It made them understand how it is capable of carrying a man. As to the questions of control, they have fortunately seen absolutely nothing; but for me, who judges calmly, it is close enough to what it should be to do well. Still one must not be too affirmative, one has to see how it will behave when it has to carry itself and to carry me. I am apprehensive about this first experience. Well, at the end of the month we will come to this practice that has so many surprises in store.

October 31, 1895

Octave Chanute to Louis-Pierre Mouillard

I received your kind letter of the 7th and for the past few days I ask myself every morning if you are up in the air, ever so little. I believe that although your machine is imperfect you will make interesting demonstrations. I am holding up an article that I have to write for a Review with the hope that I can speak in it about your experiments.

I believe that you are a little bit mistaken about the Lilienthal machine. He says (see the Aeronaute of January 1894, and my supplementary annotations) that nothing is easier than to control this machine. One has only to bend oneself to the right or to the left, in front or in back, and gravitations produce the necessary change. Still I see very well that a regular light wind is necessary in order to succeed very exactly; but if he would consider putting a hinge at the intersection of the circle and the assembling piece of the ribs, and adding a rubber string between the first rib and the circle, he would have a great improvement.

In fact, Lilienthal wrote me the 5th of August that he has lately added a few improvements to his machine that would make the use of it easy to anybody. He doesn't explain himself more fully. As he indicated at the same time that he wanted to sell his American patent, I asked him how much. He answered that he would accept 25,000 frs and that he would agree to tell all the improvement that he would make in the future. I tried to find a buyer among the bicycle manufacturers, but I have not yet succeeded.

You see that his pretensions are very moderate. He writes me too that his machine will cost, if made commercially, 125 frs and that it is sold for 625 frs. I am still wishing you good luck.

Cairo, November 7, 1895

Louis-Pierre Mouillard to Octave Chanute

My airplane takes so much hold of me that I leave my correspondence in a sad state, and that in order to get it all answered I have to give a whole day to it. My machine is nearing completion. How horrible it is! Now that I see it calmly, I'm not proud of it. It is exactly a collection of bits. It is frightfully heavy, exactly 152 kg (myself included) meaning 5007 g of load per square meter. I am not much mistaken, but after thinking it over, how much better I could have done! In fact, to produce perfection right at the first is not possible in this world I believe.

When I compare it to the bicycle, I am ashamed. Still I must state that the bicycle, as it is now, is the product of succeeding improvements of at least 1000 individuals, all of them specialized constructors, well provided with tools, perfectly organized and learning all on each other, resting on known facts, in fact, perfecting only an already perfect piece, while I have to create the piece, to create it, to find out, in short that this device is necessary, that it has to be brought out in this world, so it is of a clumsiness that makes me laugh. I have already a pretty collection of abandoned things, stillborn, that I couldn't think of putting in place and some which to my sorrow must be discarded as thrash.

I must say that the principle hasn't ever suffered the least change with me; it has stayed immutable, but those details! What an upheaval one would have to do in order to satisfy me. Well, you will judge by yourself, in my next letter that will have the photos that I am going to have made.

I believe that I must tell you something about the Cholera that is here in Egypt, as the newspapers announce. What there is I believe is an attenuated cholera, on the borders of lake Bengala, 50 miles to the north of Cairo, probably brought here from Syria and which is kept nourished by these numerous centers of infection that the fisheries of the lake are creating on the lake where they prepare the "fissich" preparation without a name, unknown in other parts, delight for the lower-class Egyptians, which is a slightly salted fish, put to ferment in heaps of about twenty cubic meters. The intestines are rotting around the huts of the fishermen and give forth an odor that is evident miles away. It is in this frightening milieu that the sickness has spread, and in spite of these special conditions it does not increase, has frankly the tendency to diminish and as it is does not scare anyone in Egypt. In Cairo, Alexandria, and the rest of the country there is not one single case. Moreover the travellers are reassured and return in quantities. Yesterday I saw 45 carriages following each other and going to the Pyramids.

Soon now, dear Sir, the letter with my masterpiece.

November 28, 1895

Octave Chanute to Louis-Pierre Mouillard

I have just received your kind letter of the 7th. I am happy to know that your machine is finished at last, and the load of 5 kg per square meter doesn't seem excessive to me. Only I believe that there is much to pare off the weight of the machine and of the carrying surface. A machine like Lilienthal's with the modifications that I indicated to you in my letter of October 31 would weigh about 24 kg. I have asked an American patent for this modification, and if I get it, I'll assign half of it to you.

In the beginning of this month I had a chance to go to Europe, but I didn't take advantage of it. My brother-in-law who has been sick for a year has been ordered to spend the winter in Nice. He wanted very much that I should take the trip with him and his wife. I offered to my family to take them along, all of them, naturally, with a thought of Egypt. After many discussions, my wife couldn't make up her mind to cross the ocean. My brother-in-law left directly on the 8th for Genoa.

My wife's health is delicate. I will take her to the South after January 17 and although I wish very much to come to see you, I cannot promise it for certain. That will depend first on my wife's health, then on the nature of the success that you will have. As I have always told you, I think there will be some breakage, and I hope that you have some replacement parts. It may happen easily that one or two months will pass in making the first try-outs, and that you will need me only in the Spring.

I tried to find a buyer for Lilienthal's patent for 25,000 frs. They answer me that the machine is not perfected enough to make a commercial success out of it. After one or two years of good will, the public falls back into indifference and doubt about the success of the flying machines. So it is up to you to solve the problem. I wish that for you with all my heart.

Cairo, December 7, 1895

Louis-Pierre Mouillard to Octave Chanute

Enclosed are three photos of my airplane. The place is not large enough to permit the obtaining of a photograph of the whole and I had to have portions taken at a time.

No. 1. Left wing and undercarriage. The tail is not in position

No. 2. Airplane seen at three-quarter view. Your servant is in the carriage. (It does not look like me at all; it seems that I moved.)

No. 3. View of the airplane taken from behind in order to show the screw and the mechanism. The tail is in position. The photo of my aide is very good.

The wing spread is just 12.25 meters. The weight with myself included is 152 kg and the surface with all wings spread out is a little more than 30 square meters. There is to this airplane an enormity that is not evident in the photographs. I do not know why this is so; very probably it is due to the lack of an over-all view of the airplane. But I ascertain, by the effect that it produces on me and on the others who have seen it, that it is better than the pictures. After all, that doesn't matter. Let us enumerate its faults.

The faults are numerous. It is a composite of errors. Still I did approach the goal, but I strongly believe I missed it. The carriage is too heavy and in spite of its weight it is too weak. The springs of the wheels that are visible in No. 2 permit by means of their horizontal disposition a movement in the plumb of the wheels that seems dangerous to me. The tests will show their value. Since they were completed, I have found out a much better arrangement, but the work was all finished. I believe that the wheels of a strong tandem bicycle would be much lighter and infinitely better than our ugly wooden wheels, even though they are a masterpiece of an Italian specialist in Cairo.

The screw is too short, and not strong enough, etc. etc. It seems to me that I see in this the prototype of the bicycles. If it wasn't forbidden by the first idea which is based on just two ideas, immutable, that are the two directions, one would want to run away. And still all these mistakes are only errors in details. The construction of the whole has not yielded. It is heavily and clumsily made but anyhow it will do there perhaps not with this machine, but with his newer relative, more carefully made where one will have dispensed with a collection of kilos, although making it at the same time more solid.

At last the wings. The bamboos are as thick as this pencil line. This line is the transferred design of their segment. I put the sawed bamboo on the paper and make all around a line with the pencil. I believed that in using these monsters I would exaggerate a great deal the necessary strength; well, I was probably mistaken. I am very much afraid that this will not carry me. As there is no table of resistance for bamboo, I can be exceeded; nobody knows more about it, it will have to be tried out one of these days, but I confess frankly that I am afraid. And still, who could have guessed! The only things that I judge to be sufficient are the enormous hinges, visible in No. 1, and still I can see them more perfect in my mind. There again we can pare down; save weight and add strength. One must cheat a little, that means using strings or wires, making buttresses, a thing that I have avoided in this airplane. But by cheating a little, what strength one would gain. But on the other hand, how much would one lose in penetration? The tubes that seem to be fixed by means of the front wheel on one part and by the large bamboos on the other are also an improvement to this principle not to fret any bar, any wind-cutter across; but I was forced to do it in order to help the two large bamboos. Perhaps I exaggerate the importance of this action of the cables that act as wind-cutters; the operators that fly have none and I have heard the song that they produce when they are exposed to the least draft, in spite of being so thin, and I told myself that such a vibration would also produce such an effect. After having said everything bad that is possible to say about this poor airplane, one shouldn't condemn it before having seen it work. I still have to cover it and to furnish it with carrying surfaces the whole empty part through which one sees the undercarriage. That will make so many more supports. Then cut everything that goes above the indispensable. There will still be a few kilograms gained, and finally transport the whole thing to the desert. That will be for next week.

In Cairo two things are good: the bamboos and the desert for the experiments. It is large and one is not bothering people nor bothered by them. But for all the rest, what a dearth of all things, what a complete scarcity of all things necessary for construction. One should bring from Algiers or from Cairo a provision of very large, giant bamboos and a collection of small bamboos. Cairo is somewhat exhausted; Algiers and its experimental garden is infinitely better provided, and from there go to Paris for the construction. In Paris one finds everything, workmen and fabricated material. Imagine that - there is not one steel tube in Cairo, etc. and so it goes with everything. Certainly, in order to succeed one should have this: proceed on a larger scale, be able to construct at the same time different variations of the same model, choose the best one, perfect it, reconstruct it even; one shouldn't think that in such a difficult undertaking one could hope to arrive at perfection at once. As far as I am concerned, I am convinced of the goodness of the principle. I am not in doubt about the maneuvers of the flight; I have seen them demonstrated enough during long years before my eyes in order to know them and especially to have understood them, and to give over my person there. That is not the difficulty for me. It is on the contrary the simple details of construction that a well-equipped bicycle mechanic could overcome in a month very easily. It is simply the doings that I have been missing and that had to be. I was in a bad position to construct. Well, we will see that one of these days, but I am very much afraid that it will not carry. I should indeed have used much stronger bamboos. There are some to be found.

Tomorrow I will, moreover, decide this case by a direct experiment. I shall take four stevedores. I shall go into the undercarriage as shown in photo No. 2 and the men will try to carry me away by putting me at the points indicated by this sign in photo No. 1, the place where probably the center of connection of the wing will be placed. If the plane breaks, that will be the end; if it resists, so much the better, it will go to the desert. In any case I- believe that elementary prudence demands to try the airplane out before embarking on it.

I look over these pictures and I realize that for anybody who has not the airplane to look at, a view of the whole is missing, that such a view must be added. I will sketch it for you one of these days.

As this letter will reach you around New Year's day, I am going to wish you and your family the best wishes for a happy new year.

Cairo, December 15, 1895

Louis-Pierre Mouillard to Octave Chanute

I am answering your kind letter of November 27, 1895 which tells me that I almost had a chance to see you.

I thank you with all my heart for the share in Lilienthal's patent of which you will let me have one half. There must be some good necessarily in his way of interpreting this problem riddled with difficulties. It would have to be seen and to be studied, take the good and leave the bad.

In my last letter I spoke to you, while criticizing my airplane, how I was afraid that it would break at the hinges. I tried it the day before yesterday. Four strong stevedores were placed two by two at the end of each big bamboo and carried the empty undercarriage. The arms did their duty with out effort. Then I decided to go all the way; I sat myself in the undercarriage. I was carried without producing hardly any sagging. Seeing that it went so much better than I had hoped, I told my aide to climb in with me (with precaution). These four strong bamboos behaved admirably. They deflected, but in a normal way under this weight of my aide (65 kg), myself 53 kg and itself about 100 kg, a total of 220 kg. We stayed carried up like that at 0.35 m from the ground for five minutes. Use less to tell you how happy I was. My nightmare had vanished. Now remains the incline to the right of the undercarriage, which is very feeble, but this one if it breaks, it will happen when it reaches the ground; that has less danger. At this moment I am finishing putting the tail in order and some annexes of the carrying surface; that should fill up this large void that goes around the undercarriage - see photo No. 2 that shows the airplane looks from behind.

As I see that some time or other you will get to Paris, without telling one in advance, I take a jump ahead and take the liberty of giving you the address of the fraction of my family who lives in the Capital. I am happy to show you to whom I am related. I have also a beloved niece and her husband living in Nice. If your brother-in-law would give them this card, I'd appreciate it.

I have nothing to say about the cholera; always two cases a day on the coast, 52 miles from Cairo.

31 December 1895

Octave Chanute to Louis-Pierre Mouillard

I received your letter of the 7th and I can at last judge your airplane by myself. I think that you made it too big and too heavy, and that you copied the bird too closely.

It remains to be seen what the experiment will indicate. Don't get discouraged too soon, but be careful that you don't get hurt. I hope that you are following at this moment the pro~ram that you indicated in your "Flight Without Flapping" in order to avoid accidents, and I'll be anxious to hear from you .

I cannot figure out the mechanism from the photos. There should be, as you say, a drawing in order to understand it.

Still, that is not so important, the essential thing is to know if your invention will give you the two controls of direction and equilibrium. I wish you every success and 1 beg you to keep me informed of your experiments. May the year 1896 be happy for you.

On to 1896