The Oscillating Wing Machine - Tuesday, July 29, 1902
The History: In a letter from Chicago, Octave Chanute sent Wilbur photographs of Chanute's oscillating wing machine built by Charles H. Lamson and a letter from a Mr. Merrill.
Lamson, originally from Portland, Maine, was a kite enthusiast. He had operated a jewelry and watch repair store in Long Beach, California about 20 miles from Pasadena where Chanute had spend the winter with his wife while she was ill.
Chanute had developed the idea of "rocking surfaces" -- oscillating (moving back and forth) wings which could automatically adjust to the changing wind conditions. In January, 1901, Lamson patented a kite which used Chanute's basic principles. Chanute paid Lamson to build a glider using the oscillating wing concepts. This glider had three sets of wings, one stacked over the other.
The letter from Mr. Merrill, Chanute explained to Wilbur, requested that Chanute support Merrill's effort to raise $500 to test a concept of launching a glider through dropping a weight.