December 31, 1903
My dear Mr. Lodge:
You will doubtless have noticed in the papers, an account of a successful trial of a flying machine made Nov. Dec.17th in North Carolina by Wilbur and Orville Wright, of the Wright Cycle Co., Dayton, O.
In answer to an inquiry of mine, I have a letter from these gentlemen to the effect that they made four successful trials on that date, starting their machine with its own power and that it showed a sustaining capacity of over 100 lbs., in excess of the weight of the operator and motor.
According to the newspaper accounts, they went as far as three miles through the air. It seems to me, that this may fairly be said to mark the beginning of successful flight through the air by men unaided by balloons. It has occured to me that it would be eminently desirable for the United States Government to interest itself in this invention with a view to utilizing it for war-like purposes.
Whatever the difficulty of practical operations might be, the mere fact that such an invention was controlled by this Government, would have a perceptible moral effect and permit greater economy in other armaments.
I wish you a very happy New Year.