Letter - by Wilbur Wright

On the 19th of May, 1900, Wilbur Wright sent a letter to Octave Chanute.  In it, he discusses a serious "illness" which he has.  The cure, for that illness, would be how to figure-out the mysteries of powered flight.

This is the first page of that letter.  Hereafter are the transcribed words:

For some years I have been afflicted with the belief that flight is possible to man. My disease has increased in severity and I feel that it will soon cost me an increased amount of money if not my life. I have been trying to arrange my affairs in such a way that I can devote my entire time for a few months to experiment in this field.

My general ideas of the subject are similar to those held by most practical experimenters, to wit: that what is chiefly needed is skill rather than machinery. The flight of the buzzard and similar sailers is a convincing demonstration of the value of skill, and the partial needlessness of motors. It is possible to fly without motors, but not without knowledge & skill. This I conceive to be fortunate, for man, by reason of his greater intellect, can more reasonably hope to equal birds in knowledge, than to equal nature in the perfection of her machinery.

Assuming then that Lilienthal was correct in his ideas of the principles on which man should proceed, I conceive that his failure was due chiefly to the inadequacy of his method, and of his apparatus. As to his method, the fact that in five years' time he spent only about five hours, altogether, in actual flight is sufficient to show that his method was inadequate. Even the simplest intellectual or acrobatic feats could never be learned.

Click on the image for a better view.

Media Credits

Image, depicting Wilbur Wright's letter - described above - to Octave Chanute.  Online, courtesy Mississippi State University. 



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