Santos-Dumont, Alberto

Santos-Dumont, Alberto

Santos-Dumont, Alberto, 1873-1932, Brazilian aeronaut. The son of a wealthy coffee grower, he was a flamboyant bon vivant and lived in France from 1891 to 1928. A pioneer in the development of aircraft, he was the first person to construct and fly (1898) a gasoline-powered airship, the predecessor of the modern blimp. He built several other lighter-than-air craft, winning in one a prize for a round-trip flight between Saint-Cloud and the Eiffel Tower (1901). At Neuilly, France, he established in 1903 the first airship base. In 1905 he turned to the construction of airplanes, and in the first successful public demonstration of one he flew a biplane some 200 ft (60 m) in Paris in 1906. His other achievements include building a successful small monoplane in 1909.

See his autobiography (tr. 1973); study by P. Hoffman (2003).

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