Alberto Santos-Dumont

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Alberto Santos-Dumont (July 20, 1873 – July 23, 1932) was a Brazilian early pioneer of aviation. Heir of a prosperous coffee producer family, Santos Dumont dedicated himself to science studies in Paris, France, where he spent most of his adult life.

Santos-Dumont designed, built and flew the first practical dirigible balloons. In doing so he became the first person to demonstrate that routine, controlled flight was possible. This "conquest of the air", in particular winning the Deutsch de la Meurthe prize on October 19, 1901 on a flight that rounded the Eiffel Tower,[1] made him one of the most famous people in the world during the early 20th century.

In addition to his pioneering work in airships, Santos-Dumont made the first European public flight of an airplane on October 23, 1906. Designated 14-bis or Oiseau de proie (French for "bird of prey"), the flying machine was the first fixed-wing aircraft witnessed by the European press and French aviation authorities to take off and successfully fly. Santos-Dumont is considered the "Father of Aviation" in Brazil, his native country.[2] His flight is the first to have been certified by the Aéro Club de France and the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI).[3][4]

Santos-Dumont also occupied the 38th chair of the Brazilian Academy of Letters, from 1931 until his death in 1932.

Contents

Childhood

Santos-Dumont was born in Cabangu Farm, a farm in the Brazilian town of Palmira, today named Santos Dumont in the state of Minas Gerais. He grew up as the sixth of eight children on a coffee plantation owned by his family in the state of São Paulo. His French-born father was an engineer, and made extensive use of the latest labor-saving inventions on his vast property. So successful were these innovations that Santos-Dumont's father gathered a large fortune and became known as the "Coffee King of Brazil."

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