Hello there! Have you ever wondered about who actually created the airplane? A quick search on Google will give you two different answers. One is that the Wright Brothers created the airplane and made the first flight in 1903. Two, that Santos Dumont made the first flight with his airplane 14 Bis in Paris in 1906. At first, it looks simple, right? The Wright Brothers flew in an airplane three years before Dumont. But things are never as simple as they look! And that is what we are going to learn today, about the amazing Santos Dumont!
Who was Alberto Santos Dumont?
Alberto Santos Dumont was born in Minas Gerais, Brazil, in 1873. During his childhood he became interested in engineering and how things worked, partly due to his father, an engineer.
Before he finished his first plane, Santos Dumont developed many other aircrafts that didn’t qualify as a plane (since planes need to be heavier than air). Once, he even tested his aircraft number 5 in a flight around the Eiffel Tower! He didn’t stop until he managed to create a working airplane.
Who Created the First Airplane?
The whole ‘Wright Brothers versus Santos Dumont’-discussion depends largely on the very definition of an airplane. For Brazilians, the Wright Brothers weren’t the ones who created the first plane because their machine needed fierce winds and some sort of catapult. Also, their demonstrations in 1903 weren’t available to the public or even recognized by any institution.
Santos-Dumont, however, flew the 14 Bis in Paris on October 23, 1906. It was the first powered heavier-than-air flight to be certified by the Aro Club de France and the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI). 14 Bis, Santos Dumont’s beloved airplane, flew for 197ft at a height of about 16ft. And the best uncontested thing is that it was recorded on tape. Take a look at this historical event!
Other Inventions by Santos Dumont
Wristwatch for men: Santos Dumont never had a free hand when he was making a flight, and could therefore not check the time on his pocket watch. So, in 1904, he asked his friend Louis Cartier to develop a model that could be worn on the wrist, with a leather strap. Some women already used a wristwatch, but Cartier and Dumont started this as a fashion trend for men.
Hangar: Santos Dumont built a large workshop for his aircrafts, partly because they were so succesful, partly because he dedicated his life to them. With this workship he also invented the first hangar for planes. This hangar housed his number 3 airship, plus all the components and tools needed for the maintenance.
Hot Shower: Ok, this might be a stretch, but hear me out! Santos Dumont’s summer residence in Rio de Janeiro, is an example of its creator’s inventiveness. The aviator designed it himself in 1918, and the three floors of the house are full of innovative ideas for the time, such as the hot shower. No one else in Brazil had a hot shower then. The shower was heated with alcohol and operated with a perforated bucket divided in half, with an inlet for hot and chilly water and two temperature currents. This summer residence is the perfect stop during our RioLIVE! in Petrópolis!
Well, that is it! Now you know everything there is to know about Alberto Santos Dumont, our own Brazilian Da Vinci! Are you scared of flights? Did you know Santos Dumont was one of the responsables for the wristwatch? Crazy, right?
Hugs and kisses from Rio & Learn!