Alberto Santos Dumont

Alberto Santos-Dumont (1873-1932) was a Brazilian inventor of dirigibles and airplanes. he was the first man to successfully combine the internal combustion engine, and Europeans long believed him to be also the first to fly a heavier than-air motorized plane.

At Bagatelle Airfield, Paris, on October 23, 1906, at 4pm, before a large crowd of witnesses, including the Aero-Club de France, Alberto Santos Dumont became the first person to fly a heavier than air machine in Europe (the “14 Bis”), and the first person in the world to demonstrate in public an aircraft taking off under its own power, with non detachable landing gear, in still air conditions from a normal landing strip (the Wright Bros. used a catapult and had no landing gear attached to their aircraft.)

Santos Dumont made numeros valuable contributions to the field of aircraft control. The most notable being the use of “effective ailerons” at the tops of the wings (1906). The “14 Bis” aircraft consisted of a box-like rudder and elevevator mechanism which protruded in front of the wings like the head of a duck in flight.

On October 19, 1901 Santos Dumont won the Deutsch de la Meurthe prize of 100,000 francs for flying his derigible “Number 6″ from Parc St. Cloud to the Eiffel Tower and back in less than 30 minutes. In a charitable gesture he donated half the prize money to the poor of Paris and the other half was split among his staff as a bonus.

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