Wright Again

Wright Again

Wishes For A Happy New Year - Monday, December 29, 1902

The History: Octave Chanute replies to Wilbur's letter of December 26th and includes his travel plan and schedule. Chanute explains to Wilbur that he and his daughters will be leaving Chicago for Boston on Wednesday, December 31st. Then they will sail on the steamship Commonwealth for Alexandria, Egypt.

Chanute has performed the calculations Wilbur requested and apologizes for taking such a long time to complete them. Chanute has provided the "resultant pressure", computed from measurements from both the lift and drift (drag) balances used in the 1901 wind tunnel tests.

Chanute encourages Wilbur to write him while he travels and Chanute will do the same. He wishes the Wrights prosperity and success in the new year and hopes to visit them in May 1903.

Wilbur wrote to their friend and colleague George Spratt. He shared with Spratt the brothers' plan to build a new, much larger machine next year. Each wing surface of the new biplane will be 40 feet by 6 feet 6 inches. The Wrights know they will have unique challenges with the construction and flight of a larger machine, including starting and takeoff, the extra weight of the structure and ensuring the machine is sturdy enough to support the engine and resist the vibrations created.

Wilbur explains to Spratt, "We have recently done a little experimenting with screws [propellers]..... It is a very perplexing problem indeed."

Wilbur has read in the newspapers that the eastern seaboard [where their Kill Devil Hills campsite is located] has been hit with severe storms. Wilbur wonders if their "shanty" [a small crudely built dwelling] is "still on its pins or whether it is down in a hole again." He tells Spratt he has not heard any news from anyone in the Kitty Hawk area since they left in October.

He encourages Spratt to continue investigating one of his own aerodynamic experiments. "There is evidently something there worth knowing, though it may turn out different from what you originally expected", Wilbur tells him.

Wilbur has included some of the results of the brothers' 1901 wind tunnel tests: a table of lifts also called rectangular pressures defined as the pressure at right angles to the wind. Wilbur also noted the curvatures (shape) and dimensions (size) of each airfoil.

Wilbur wishes Spratt a Happy New Year.

The resultant pressure, Chanute calculated, was an indicator of the amount of weight the machine could support.

On September 2, 1902, Wilbur had written a letter to Chanute explaining the damage to their campsite building (damage which occurred during 1901-1902). The Wrights drove foundation posts into the ground to support the building and repair the damage. These posts are the "pins" Wilbur mentions. He is joking with Spratt, suggesting their foundation posts may be as weak and useless as pins in these storms; and their building may suffer serious damage again.

The term "screws" refers to a propeller, which is also called a fan screw or a screw propeller. A screw propeller is a mechanism which contains a center hub with radiating blades used to propel a vehicle. As the blades rotate and are propelled forward the blade motion forms a spiral pattern like a screw would.


Propeller Path Looks Like A Screw

Quotation from the book The Papers of Wilbur and Orville Wright, Volume 1 by M. McFarland.

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Last modified: Sun Dec 01 09:33:14 PST 2002
Copyright © 1996-2002 by Cislunar Aerospace, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Photograph of the Wright brothers courtesy of the Wright State University - Dunbar Library.
Propeller graphic adapted from "The theory of the screw propeller", A. Betz, NACA TN-83, http://naca.larc.nasa.gov/reports/1922/naca-tn-83/index.cgi?thumbnail5, February, 1922.
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