CHANUTE AND THE FIRST AIRCRAFT SOLD TO FRANCE.
CHANUTE, OCTAVE. 2 Autograph Letters Signed ("O. Chanute"), 2½ pp recto and verso, in French, 11 x 8½ inches, Chicago, IL, December 21, 1904 and February 28, 1905, to Jacques Balsan of Paris, on Chanute stationery ("Wood preserving a specialty"). Together with printed invoice accomplished in manuscript from William A. Avery, Carpenter, Chicago, February 23, 1905, made out to Balsan with charges for "crating aeroplane," etc.
During a visit to Paris in April 1903, the French-born Chicagoan Chanute met the aviator Jacques Balsan at a meeting of the Aéro-Club de France. By November, Balsan had ordered a glider from Chanute. Somewhat testily, Chanute writes to him at the end of 1904 (translated): "The glider you ordered on November 6, 1903, was finished (except for the fabric) in March 1904, the time at which you were coming to America. Receiving no letter from you, I had to take the glider at my own expense." He writes that he covered the glider, and it was flown by Avery at the St. Louis World's Fair in September of that year. "I received your telegram of September 24 and I replied that I would be in St. Louis from October 3 for a week. When I arrived, you had already left for New York, saying you would be back in a few days. After which I heard nothing.
"The glider is back here [in Chicago]. It is in good shape, but it will cost you 500 francs if you want it." Chanute's grumpy letter was clearly successful, for in the second letter he gives detailed information about the shipping of the glider to Paris. In 1925, Balsan donated the glider to the Paris Air Museum, and it remains on display at Le Bourget.