Octave Chanute to Wilbur Wright

Chicago, January 1, 1902

I have been working on my retiring address to the Western Society of Engineers, and unable sooner to answer your valued letter of Dec. 23.

I shall be very glad to have your comments upon the Marvin papers (from whom I have heard nothing more, yet), and to discuss the best way of computing glides. I am delighted to hear that you "get lost now and then." I do also.

I would be willing to defray the expense of publishing Lilienthal's book in English, if I could get gratis an adequate translation.

I will gladly assist in figuring up the results of your experiments. I propose now to start for California on the 8th, and to remain till the 1st of March. I shall have nothing to do there, but to sun myself, to get up the article for Moedebeck, and to compute your data. You may send me a first batch before I leave, and the balance later, to 485 Maylin St., Pasadena, Calif., which will be my address.

You are eminently right in saying that there is a limit to the amount of neglect which a business will endure. I discovered that in 1897 when, after spending some $10,000 in experimenting and assisting others to experiment, I found some danger of losing the business which gave me bread and butter. Since then I have been more cautious, yet there may be circumstances which will warrant greater activity. I learn confidentially - and I tell you under same restrictions - that the Directors of the Exposition at St. Louis are even now discussing a project for making the research of aerial navigation a prominent feature of that show, which they also talk of postponing till 1904. The plan suggested has been to enter into communication with Mr. Deutsch and Mr. Santos-Dumont to provide a navigable balloon, and to offer a number of prizes, the first of $50,000, for the best performances of various classes of aerial apparatus. Of course, this may come to nothing, or it may take such shape as to hasten a solution. I shall be glad to know how this news strikes you, and shall meanwhile take no steps to enlist rich men in the pursuit. The only reward that I have seen them offer, so far, has been to give their name to the first successful apparatus, in the hope that it would stick to it in the future.

I wish you a happy and a properous year. May everything turn out as you desire. Please remember me to your brother.