A letter written by Wilbur Wright to his first student, Paul Tissandier, is set to see the highest bids among aviation memorabilia in Bonhams' Space History auction, to be held on March 25 in New York.
The letter is dated June 6, 1909 and, given Wilbur Wright's early death from typhoid in 1912, is of the utmost rarity. It will sell with a $35,000-45,000 estimate, as a marvellous record from the history of the world's first aviators.
The letter was written the year after Wilbur and Orville Wright secured a contract with a French company that was willing to invest in their Wright Flyer. One of the conditions of this contract was that the brothers would train three French student pilots as, at the time, the Wrights were the only men capable of flying their machine.
The lengthy missive contains plenty of aviation content and is written in response to Tissandier's earlier letter to Wilbur, in which he refers to himself as a "French recordman", being the only person other than the two brothers to have amassed more than an hour in the air.
In his response, Wilbur shows concern over Tissandier teaching new pupils with the old Wright machine, and mentions that Orville hopes to begin flying a new machine at Fort Myer before the end of the month.
Also starring in the sale is another rare Wilbur Wright autographed document, which will be offered with a $25,000-35,000 estimate. Entitled Clement Ader - What He Did, the essay is one of the last written before Wilbur's death in 1912 and contains notes from Orville.
Space memorabilia at the auction will be highlighted by a document known as the Space Magna Carta, which was signed at the end of the space race.