James Means is best remembered for his Aeronautical Annual
s of 1895, 1896 and 1897, which communicated important information about the aeronautical thinking and experimentation of that time, as well as historical articles of significance. In this regard, his work was much like that of Octave Chanute
, seeking to foster aerial thought and experimentation.
His publications had significant impact. Orville Wright, writing as the Wright Brothers, sent a letter to James Means in 1910 acknowledging the part that the Aeronautical Annual
s had played in spurring and sustaining their interest in aeronautics.
One year prior to publishing the first Aeronautical Annual, James Means published a small pamphlet entitled The Problem Of Manflight
which, among other matters, offered a design for a large model "Soaring Machine" with which people could experiment. The pamphlet also included Means' memorable observation that "Aerial transit will be accomplished because the air is a solid if you hit it hard enough."
His own experiments with the "Soaring Machine" dated from November of 1893. The devotion which James Means had to encouraging aerial experimentation and to documenting the work of others, as well as his own, has secured him a place of importance and respect among those who have pondered the history of flight.