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More than a hundred Years Ago

On 17 December 1903, the Wright brothers, in the USA, made use of a rudimentary catapult (with an inclined plane) to throw their Flyer biplane into the air, Santos-Dumont, however, would be the first to build and fly an aircraft "heavier-than-the-air" by its own means of propulsion,in october 23th 1906


Alberto Santos-Dumont, 1873-1932

Between 1901 and 1905, Santos was satisfied to enjoy his fame among Parisian public by landing his dirigible in front of his house just off the Champs-Elysées or at his favorite restaurant in the Bois de Boulogne. In 1906, however, the Brazilian surprised the Parisian aeronautical world by announcing that he intended to become a contender for the prizes being offered for heavier-than-air flight. Just two years before he had suggested that the conquest of the air by means of heavier-than-air machines might occur... but, as news of the Wright brothers' experiments appeared in French aeronautical journals, Santos began to wonder if the future were not closer at hand.

Santos Dumont and the 14-Bis

He was there watching Gabriel Voisin soar briefly above the waters of the Seine in an aircraft of his own design and he was prompted to act. Inspired by Voisin's use of box-like structures to provide stability,Santos designed one of the strangest and least promising flying machines ever seen, which he named the I4bis to indicate its continuity with the fourteen dirigibles that had preceded it. On the afternoon of 23 October 1906 the Brazilian succeeded in rising to a height of three meters, which he maintained over a distance of two hundred feet, thereby winning the Archdeacon prize for the first heavier-than-air flight of more than 25 meters.

The historical flight of Santos-Dumont on the 14-bis at Bagatelle:

On the 23rd of October, Santos-Dumont flew from the field of Bagatelle, watched by a crowd and representatives of the Aero Club of France. By his own means of propulsion, the 14-bis rolled for approx 300 feet and took off, flying for 250 feet in 7 seconds, in a level flight a few feet above ground. Santos-Dumont won the 3,000 francs Prize Archdeacon, instituted in July 1906 by the American Ernest Archdeacon, to honour the first flyer to achieve a level flight of at least 75 feet.

On  November 12th 1906, Santos-Dumont improved even more the performance of his 14-bis and his flying ability, making several flights always increasing the distance flown, finally flying for 21.5 seconds at about 20 feet above ground, covering 700 feet at a speed of 25 mph

The box kite tail unit was connected to the fuselage in such a way that it could be moved up and down to act as an elevator and from side to side to act as a rudder. The engine was a 50 hp Antoinette which drove a metal pusher propeller 6 feet in diameter. The main landing gear consisted of two wheels with rubber shock absorbers. A skid supported the front part of the aircraft. The pilot stood in a wicker basket just ahead of the engine; there was a control wheel linked by cables to the forward surfaces, and for latter trials there were ailerons mounted in the outer wing bays. Because the pilot's hands were fully engaged with the other controls, the ailerons were linked to a metal T-piece attached to a special coat and the airplane's lateral control had to be attained by body movement.

 Santos-Dumont persevered with his interest in heavier-than-air machines and succeeded in flying a new model, the Santos-Dumont No. 20 Demoiselle which had far more resemblance to the airplane as we know it than the 14bis. This little monoplane made its debut at St. Cyr in March 1909. The true prototype of the Demoiselle, however, had been built nearly two years before. It had been designated project No. 19 and had made hops in 1907. It had a 20 hp engine, and a bamboo fuselage with cruciform tail surfaces and a framework beneath the wings which housed the pilot and the landing gear. The n0 20 Demoiselle was an improvement and became a big sucess.

The Demoiselle
The fuselage of the Demoiselle No. 20 was still made of bamboo, but strengthened, the wing area was the same, but it was powered by a 35-hp engine. During tests in September 1909 it succeeded in flying for 16 minutes, covering about 11 miles. The much modified No. 19 was exhibited during that same month at the Grand Palace in Paris and was received with considerable enthusiasm. Santos-Dumont allowed anyone to copy his aircraft and it is believed that between ten and fifteen Demoiselles were built.

Quero ler a Versão em Português

Tente também o site abaixo onde há muito material sobre Santos Dumont fotos e filmes de época:

Santos Dumont - controvérsia