Considered by Brazilians to be the true inventor of the airplane, Alberto Santos-Dumont seems like the swashbuckling protagonist of a steampunk story. The aviator invented and built several balloons and dirigibles, and would pilot one of his personal airships around the skies of Paris as one might a flying car. Because there were no air-traffic control laws in the early 1900s, he was able to run errands in his airship as he pleased, often flying it to his favorite cafes. He called this airship "No. 9," (in keeping with the naming scheme he had used for all of his aircraft), and deemed it "a small air-ship runabout for my pleasure and convenience only."
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Key Facts In This Video
In October of 1906, Alberto Santos-Dumont flew a heavier-than-air aircraft for about 196 feet (60 meters). 00:25
Alberto Santos-Dumont won the Deutsch de la Meurthe prize in 1901 for flying a dirigible from Saint-Cloud to Paris and back, a trip that included looping around the Eiffel Tower. 03:01
Brazilians consider Alberto Santos-Dumont the inventor of the airplane, as opposed to the Wright Brothers. 05:00
The use of aircraft in military endeavors greatly depressed Alberto Santos-Dumont. 07:22