Brazil Celebrates in Washington 1906 Flight of Airplane Inventor, Santos-Dumont

The Minister of Planning, Budget and Management of Brazil, Paulo Bernardo Silva, and the President of the Inter-American Development Bank, Luis Alberto Moreno, will open the exhibition "Brazil, 100 Years of Innovation."

The exposition will be held at IDB headquarters in Washington, D.C., in celebration of the first flight of a self-propelled plane in 1906. The event will take place September 12 at 12:30 p.m. in the  atrium of the main IDB building.

The exhibition, sponsored by the Executive Director for Brazil and Suriname at the IDB, Rogério Studart, will highlight Brazil’s century of technological advances since the first flight by famous Brazilian pilot Alberto Santos-Dumont (1873-1932), who is known in Brazil as  the Father of Aviation and the inventor of the airplane.

The exhibit, which will be on view September 12-22, will showcase the first plane that Santos-Dumont flew, the 14 Bis or Oiseau de Proie (bird of prey in French). The Brazilian pilot made in October, 1906, in Paris, the first public flight of an airplane in Europe.

He is also considered to be the first man who flew a machine without the help of a catapult or any other similar device.

The technological advancement display will include a section on the sustainable organization and exploitation of the Brazilian Amazon, based on the Arpa Project and the Program for Public Management of Forests.

Another section will outline Brazilian leadership in the technology used by Petrobras for oil production in deep waters, biodiesel fuel and clean renewable energy sources.

Other successful technologies on exhibit will be the Eletrobrás Group experience using hydroelectric potential, as well as research in agribusiness by Embrapa, electronic balloting to strengthen democracy, and projects and products using state-of-the-art technology.

The exhibit will be on view in the IDB atrium at 1300 New York Ave, N.W., Washington, D.C.


  • Show Comments (3)

  • clovis melo

    Many inventors from everywhere contributed to the invention of the airplane. Santos Dumont and the Wright brothers were just three of them, though they were really the first ones to fly. Nobody can say exactly who did invent the airplane, as nobody can say who invented the wheel.

  • Christiane de Paula

    Are Brazilians misinformed?
    I’m Brazilian and I know who was Alberto Santos Dumont and who were the Wright Brothers. So I think I can say I’m not misinformed. The plane made by Santos Dumont was able to fly by itself. No catapults were needed. It’s a fact.

  • Dennis J Farquharson

    [i] As an American who loves Brazil, I am concerned that Lula and other misinformed Brazilians embarrass the country when discussing the contribution of Santos Dumont to air travel. I found this response to a radio caller from a representative of the Air and Space Museum interesting: [/i]

    [i]Caller:[/i] I am from Brazil and my wife is a buckeye from just outside of Dayton (Ohio) so we must settle my question (laughter). The French-Brazilian, Santos Dumont. The French and the Brazilians and several other countries claim that he has the title of À¢€œthe father of aviationÀ¢€Â. My question is . . what is the claim that the French have and why do they claim that and the Brazilians and what is the claim that you guys have that the Wright brothers would be the first ones to fly. I would just try to understand why since as a child we learn that in Brazil and in France that Santos Dumont is the father of aviation. Thank-you.

    [i]Air and Space Museum Representative:[/i] Santos Dumont was a very important figure in aviation in both heavier than air aviation and in lighter than air aviation. He was Brazilian and he went to France as a young man and was very interested in aeronautics. He made some very famous flights with air ships. He made the first flight around the Eiffel tower in 1901 where he won a very large financial prize so he was a well known aviation figure when the Wright Brothers were experimenting. He went on to heavier than air airplanes and made the first publicly demonstrated flight in Europe. . . . Well, it was the first publicly demonstrated flight in the world took place in Europe in 1906. It was a flight of a little over 700 feet just a straight line top. The reason at the time he was considered the first was that the Wright Brothers did not publicly fly until 1908. They refined their 1903 airplane, 1904, 1905 with two more airplanes which I mentioned a moment ago but in 1905 when they had perfected their design they stopped flying entirely. They set about to [b]secure their patent which was finally granted in 1906[/b] and looking for customers to sell their airplane to. And in this interim period other experimenters in Europe and elsewhere were experimenting and starting to make flights. In 1908, January of 1908, the first one kilometer circular flight was made in France by a pilot named Henri Farn . . . won a 50,000 franc prize. So these flights were gaining a lot of popularity but the Wrights were not flying publicly yet but when they first do in August of 1908, they clearly demonstrate that they were ahead of everyone else. They were flying for an hour at a time making circles and just instantly their claims to having invented the airplane were confirmed. They became instantly world famous with these flights. So what you have today in this debate about Santos Dumont and the Wright Brothers really stems from this earlier period where it appears that Santos Dumont had flown first. Their were rumors about what the Wright Brothers had done and witnesses saying they saw things but they never made any public flights. Once they had done so it was clear what they had done. Santos Dumontˢ۪s contribution was certainly important and should not be denied.

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