Wilbur and Orville WrightLetter to Rep. R.M. NevinWashington, D.C.January 18, 1905
FULL TEXT VERSION
Nevin’s staff, in his absence, simply forwarded the note to the War Department, where it was viewed as just another unsolicited crank letter. The response to Nevin: “It appears ... their machine [is not at] the stage of practical operation.”
Other attempts—by the Wrights and friends—followed, with similar results. Not until 1908 did the Army officially declare an interest, and then it was to announce an open competition to sell the US an airplane. The Wrights easily won.
Hon. R.M. Nevin Washington, D.C.January 18, 1905
Dear Sir:The series of aeronautical experiments upon which we have been engaged for the past five years has ended in the production of a flying machine of a type fitted for practical use. It not only flies through the air at high speed, but it also lands without being wrecked. During the year 1904, one hundred and five flights were made at our experimenting station, on the Huffman prairie, east of the city; and though our experience in handling the machine has been too short to give any high degree of skill, we nevertheless succeeded, toward the end of the season, in making two flights of five minutes each, in which we sailed round and round the field until a distance of about three miles had been covered, at a speed of thirty-five miles an hour. The first of these record flights was made on November 9th, ... and the second on December 1st. ...
The numerous flights in straight lines, in circles, and over “S” shaped courses, in calms and in winds, have made it quite certain that flying has been brought to a point where it can be made of great practical use in various ways, one of which is that of scouting and carrying messages in time of war. If the latter features are of interest to our own government, we shall be pleased to take up the matter either on a basis of providing machines of agreed specification, at a contract price, or of furnishing all the scientific and practical information we have accumulated in these years of experimenting, together with a license to use our patents; thus putting the government in a position to operate on its own account.
If you can find it convenient to ascertain whether this is a subject of interest to our own government, it would oblige us greatly, as early information on this point will aid us in making our plans for the future.
Respectfully yours,Wilbur and Orville Wright
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