Wright Again

Wright Again

The Generous Offer - June 2, 1902

The History: Responding to Octave Chanute's letter of May 30th, regarding his offer to present the Wrights with both a multiple-wing and two surface flying machine, Wilbur conveys how generous and kind the offer is. "It surpassed our capacity for belief ... ", says Wilbur.

Wilbur tells Chanute he does not believe he and Orville will have time to make effective use of these machines. He suggests they would learn more if Chanute continued his own experiments with these vehicles and use his own experts, more experienced with this equipment than the Wrights.

Wilbur also tells Chanute Professor Albert Zahm [from Catholic University in Washington, D.C.] has written the Wrights. Zahm also has conducted wind tunnel experiments and would like to share his results with the Wrights. Wilbur wrote Zahm and provided a chart of pressures for Duchemin, Langley and the Wrights own experiments of a square plane (flat square plate). Although Zahm corresponded and said he would send the Wrights results in 2 or 3 weeks, the Wrights never received these measurements.

Airfoil

Square Plane
The Small Part (Sticking Up) is a Groove to Attach the Plane to Testing Equipment.

Many years later Zahm will play an adversarial role in the story of the Wright brothers. He will be a paid witness for a competitor of the Wrights, Glenn Curtiss, and testify against the Wrights in a law suit. Zahm will allege the Wrights were not the inventors of the flying machine nor the first to successfully fly. Although initially cordial and supportive of the Wright's work, Zahm's bitterness and attempts to discredit the Wrights would last for thirty-five years.


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Last modified: Tue May 28 10:43:50 PDT 2002
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Photograph of the Wright brothers courtesy of the Wright State University - Dunbar Library.

Photograph of the square plane courtesy The Franklin Institute.
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