Brazil: Global Aerospace Leader
April 10, 2012
If you ask a Brazilian “who invented the airplane” you may be surprised by the answer. This is because most Brazilians attribute that distinction, not to the Wright Brothers, but to Alberto Santos-Dumont. Dumont flew a biplane for a distance of 60 meters before a crowd of Parisians in the fall of 1906. It was the first documented flight in the world and while the Wright Brothers did fly at Kitty Hawk in 1903, in 1906 they were not very well-known.
Santos-Dumont is considered to be the “Father of Aviation” in Brazil with the regional airport in Rio de Janeiro named after him. In 1908, the Wright Brothers demonstrated their flying machine in Paris before the world record sanctioning body and it flew further and better than any airplane built at that time. The point here, however, is not to present arguments in favor of Santos-Dumont as the first man to successfully operate a self- powered aircraft; rather, it is to draw attention to the fact that Brazil, known mostly for its Samba, football (soccer) prowess, and Carnival, is actually one of the world leaders in technological and scientific achievement and has historical precedent as evidence.