Dumont, a Brazilian Aviation Pioneer the World Forgot

Detail of Follow Your Dreams coverBrazil has a wonderful hero the world needs to know about. His name is Alberto Santos-Dumont. When I read his autobiography, I fell in love with him. His descriptions of flight are magical, his story reads like a fairy tale, he is such an inspirational figure, so creative, dedicated, humble, whimsical, and generous.

If we simply consider Alberto’s achievements, we have an amazing story. Alberto made aviation history in so many different ways, he is called the Father of Aviation. He designed and flew both lighter than air ( his balloon and blimps) and heavier than air (his planes) flying machines.

His balloon is the smallest passenger balloon with a basket ever flown. In Paris, with his airship #6, he accomplished the first flight in the modern sense of the word – with a fixed route and time – and won the Deutsch Prize of 100,000 francs in 1901. He gave all the money to his workers and the poor people of Paris.

He accomplished the first airplane flight in Europe in 1906 for which he won the Archdeacon Prize. He was the first to repeatedly and successfully take off and land a plane on wheels. He designed and flew the first ultralight (sports) plane.

His plane was the first to be built by or bought by people everywhere – including even the United States. Yes, that’s right – Popular Mechanics published the plans for the Demoiselle in the U.S.A.; and Americans all over the country built it and flew it.

President Theodore Roosevelt invited him to the White House. When Alberto died, thousands of pilots in the air all over the world dipped the wings of their planes in his honor at the precise moment his coffin was lowered into the ground.

I don’t know of another aviator who can claim that many firsts in so many different areas of flight. His record is stunning, almost unbelievable. And this is only part of the story. 

Why don’t more people around the world know about Alberto? I think it’s because he refused to take out patents. He gave everything away. He was interested in ideas not patents, in prototypes, not marketing. He wanted ideas to be free for all. He was a truly altruistic inventor; but because his inventions weren’t patented, his name is largely forgotten.

Considering his achievements, however, is only part of the picture. Alberto’s story is not complete without conveying his spirit – his dreams, patience, dedication, creativity, humility, generosity, and joie de vivre make him an especially inspiring and unique historical figure.

Conveying his spirit to others is absolutely essential to appreciating his story. The problem is how to do this. How can his story and his spirit become better known throughout the world?

I think our hope always lies in our children. Change has to start with the young: the best place to start is with children. That’s what we’re doing with “Follow Your Dreams: the Story of Alberto Santos-Dumont,” a children’s book about Alberto that doesn’t just simply list his accomplishments but illustrates his spirit, the magic of his descriptions of flight, his hair-raising escapes and joyful successes with a series of painted illustrations based on Alberto’s own descriptions – descriptions for which there are no photographs.

“Follow Your Dreams” will fill every child’s heart with the magical possibilities of their own dreams and the beauty of the world around them. They will also see his dedication, patience, humility, generosity, and joie de vivre.

Above all, I want to convey Alberto’s spirit to children; because it is so delightful and so inspiring. We are working on publishing the book in as many different countries as possible. Once the children of the world know about Alberto, one day the adults will too. Once he is a hero for children, he will eventually be a hero for adults, too.

Published by Prometheus Press, the book is beautifully designed, even the text pages are in vivid colors with ornamental designs. It’s like holding the spirit of Brazil in your hands.

The paper is a high quality 150 gr. with a matte finish. The sheer beauty of the book will make your heart sing. It is in a bilingual format (English/Portuguese) so kids can also develop their language skills. The book is available in Brazil and at Amazon.com. (suggested for children 6-12)

Following in Alberto’s footsteps, the author is giving 50% of her royalties to charities taking care of children in Brazil. Every copy sold anywhere in the world will help a child in Brazil.

If you have a child in your life for whom you are thinking of buying a book, keep this one in mind. The message is simply to “Follow Your Dreams. You never know where they may lead you and what wonderful things can happen.”

May all your dreams come true!

“Dê asas aos seus sonhos: A história de Alberto Santos Dumont” “Follow Your Dreams: The Story of Alberto Santos-Dumont”       Prometheus Press, by Elisabeth Waugaman, Ph.D., Sueli Guedes (translator) 

Follow Your Dreams at Amazon.com

Elisabeth P. Waugaman has a Ph.D. from Duke University, Durham, North Carolina. She had art training at Sophie Newcomb College of Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana; and the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, DC.

Prometheus Press is a new, small Brazilian publishing company with no resources for advertising. All promotions for the book have to be done by the author who does not use a pseudonym to promote her book. Waugaman has donated all her royalties to the Brazil Foundation to help women and children in Brazil. Only three thousand copies of “Follow Your Dreams” were published. Half of them have been sold worldwide. You may visit the website http://www.followyourdreams for more information and free activities for the kids.

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