Heaters, Refrigerators and Church Business - Thursday, July 17, 1902
The History: Wilbur wrote to Octave Chanute and Chanute wrote two separate letters to Wilbur today.
Wilbur asks Chanute if he will translate a letter from French into English sent to the Wrights from the editor of a French journal. Wilbur also tells Chanute the "church matter" (previously mentioned on May 16, 1902) in which he has been assisting his father may delay the Wrights departure for Kitty Hawk until late August.
Chanute writes that he agrees with the Wright's plan proposed in Wilbur's letter of July 9, 1902 to ready Chanute's flying machines for testing. Chanute tells Wilbur he is certain the Wrights would spend too much time (versus too little time) on Chanute's machine and one of Chanute's former assistants should be made available to show the brothers how Chanute's machines operate.
Chanute tells Wilbur that he has sent an anemometer (an instrument which measures the speed of the wind) to them.
In a separate letter that day, Chanute writes to Wilbur regarding future "extensions" to the Wrights' business. This subject may have been discussed when Chanute visited on July 3, 1902. Chanute suggests the Wrights might make fortunes with "a stove for heating carriages" and "a domestic refrigerating machine ... simple enough to be run by the cook". Chanute is suggesting a heater for a carriage and a simple refrigerator! Chanute even adds, "At the present price of ice they would be profitable if successful."
It is important to note the Wrights commitment and keen sense of priorities as businessmen. They worked on their flight experiments during the slow seasons at the bicycle shop -- not all the time. More than once Wilbur said that there would be no fortune or fame for the inventor of a flying machine.
Their sense of priority as businessmen is clearly demonstrated in the correspondence today. Their father's church matter will delay their departure for Kitty Hawk this year. Chanute's letter tells us the brothers have discussed "possible extensions" of their business. What is suggested? A heater and a refrigerator -- both are very practical devices with a large commercial market. Even though the first successful flight will occur in exactly 1 year and 5 months, the brothers do not seriously consider aviation as a profitable business yet.