Flying Lessons for Captain Ferber? - Saturday, March 7, 2003
The History: Chanute has met with Captain Ferdinand Ferber, a French artillery officer, in Nice, France. Chanute shares with Wilbur that Ferber has also been experimenting with gliders similar to the Wrights'. Although crudely built, Ferber has made 8 successful glides. The longest glide was about 150 feet.
Chanute conveys to Wilbur that Ferber is testing his machine on terrible ground - rocky slopes with overhangs above and below.
Ferber has built a testing apparatus called an "aerodrome" which has a 59-foot mast [pole] and a 98-foot rotating arm. Ferber uses the aerodrome to test motorized equipment. He has a 6 H.P. (horsepower) engine that weighs about 200 pounds and once the propellers are mounted will weight 22 pounds more. Ferber is investigating the "best and lightest construction of screws [propellers]."
Ferber has discussed with Chanute that he believes the Wright brothers have the most advanced machines. He is not interested in developing his own machine, but prefers to learn and experiment with the best concepts others have designed.
Ferber would like to take lessons from the Wrights. Chanute informs Wilbur that Ferber would like to buy the Wrights 1902 glider as well as the oscillating-wing machine Charles Lamson had built for Chanute. [Chanute gave this machine to the Wrights.]
Chanute has had a wonderful trip with his daughters. "We spend 10 days in Egypt, and then went to Naples, Rome, and Florence before coming here [Nice, France]." The Chanute family will be travelling to Milan and Venice. His daughters will remain there while Chanute travels to Vienna and Berlin on business on behalf of the St. Louis Exposition. He'll join his daughters in Paris on March 22nd and they will stay until April 1st.
Chanute hopes the brothers are doing well and that they have made progress. He hopes to visit them when he returns. Chanute will be in London from April 2nd to April 24th and will sail home to America from there. He asks Wilbur to write him care of Thomas Cook & Son in London regarding the sale of the machines and lessons for Ferber.
Thomas Cook & Son was the leading travel agency of the time. Most conducted tours to Egypt were arranged by Cook's.