Centennial Flight (1906 - 2006)

“There are also other people [...] claiming that they did it first, but, well, talk is cheap, and it's very easy after a solution is announced, to claim that you did it earlier.” - Elonka Dunin (FAQ about Kryptos)

The ‘who invented the airplane’ / ‘who flew first’ controversy (Controversy? I don‘t think so...)

The year of 2006 marks the 100th anniversary of one of the greatest achievements in human history: on October 23, 1906, the first self-propelled, heavier-than-air craft took off from Bagatelle, France, before a crowd in awe. On that date, new and exciting times had dawned...

was the name of the formidable machine.

Alberto Santos-Dumont
was its outstanding creator.

This little compilation of pictures is a token of admiration and gratitude for the invaluable work of this great inventor.

Air Conqueror

Taking Off

The 14-bis (14-encore) becomes airborne in Bagatelle. Magnificent!

In mid-air...

Even the ladies couldn't get enough of Santos and showed up to salute the great inventor.
Santos picture

Alberto Santos-Dumont was born in Brazil, in the state of Minas Gerais, on the 20th of July 1873.

The prestige of the ingenious inventor was so high that he has influenced people world-wide. In Brazil, for example, the city of Palmira had its name changed in 1932. It was renamed after the young pioneer and it is now known as Santos-Dumont city.
Santos coffee and cream

In the United States, he served as the inspiration and namesake for a small Coffe and Ice Cream Shop in Milford, New Hampshire (source: Wikipedia).
The crowd

After the landing, people get around to congratulate the inventor on his triumph!
14-bis - top view

The 14-bis (top view)
14-bis - frontal view

The 14-bis (frontal view)
14-bis - side view

The 14-bis (side view)

Prior to his work on airplanes, Santos-Dumont had spent several years developing airships.
Airship 9

He won several prizes for his remarkable achievements in the matter of speed and steerability of dirigibles.

No one has ever come close to him in that field.
Airship 9

The masses wouldn't leave him alone... and he loved it!
Handmade drawings

Simple handmade drawings.
Pilot Licences

Given his numerous accomplishments, no wonder Santos was the first person in history to receive a pilot licence (top, centre).

The other licencees are: Léon Delagrange, Henri Farman, Wilbur Wright, Orville Wright, Robert Esnault-Pelterie, Captain Ferdinand Ferber and Louis Bleriot.
Dumont's licence

A closer look at Santos-Dumont's licence, in his trademark Panama hat.
Demoiselle taking off

After having proved the feasibility of heavier-than-air crafts, the always innovative Alberto modifies his original airplane design into something lighter and smaller. Model number 19 was born!

The airplane was so gracious while flying, that the French nicknamed it “The Demoiselle
Demoiselle flying

The resemblance to a modern airplane is striking!

The Demoiselle was so brilliantly designed, that it is also considered to be the first ultra-light airplane in history.
Demoiselle drawing

The Demoiselle (frontal and side views)
Demoiselle magazine

Contrary to other contemporary inventors, Santos-Dumont did not believe in patents. He distributed freely the plans for the Demoiselle to anyone who wanted to build his own. In that sense, Santos-Dumont was an idealist and was in the forefront of what we nowadays call the ‘Open Source’ initiative.

Several companies profited from his work, although that had never been his intention.
Neil Armstrong

Apollo 11 Commander Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon, during his visit to Brazil,...
Neil Armstrong signing

...pays respectful homage to the memory of the man who had conquered the air.
Bill Clinton's remarks

American president Bill Clinton, during an official visit to Brazil in 1997, emphasizes the gratitude of the American population to Brazilian artists, athletes and explorers, especially Santos-Dumont, ‘Father of Aviation’, on Mr. Clinton's own words.

Other sites are encouraged to link to this page. The pictures can be freely copied. The text needs express consent. Copyright Marcos Bedinelli - Oct 2005.