Santos-Dumont, Alberto

Santos-Dumont, Alberto

(älbĕr`to͝o sän`to͝ozh-dümôN`), 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 airshipairship,
an aircraft that consists of a cigar-shaped gas bag, or envelope, filled with a lighter-than-air gas to provide lift, a propulsion system, a steering mechanism, and a gondola accommodating passengers, crew, and cargo.
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, 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).

Santos-Dumont, Alberto


Born July 20, 1873, in Palmyra (now Santos Dumont), state of Minas Gerais, Brazil; died July 24, 1932, in Guarujá, state of São Paulo, Brazil. French balloonist and aviator.

Beginning in 1896, Santos-Dumont worked in France. Between 1898 and 1903 he constructed and tested 12 small airships (up to 1,250 m3), registering speeds up to 25 km/hr. In 1901 he flew around the Eiffel Tower in one of his airships. He later designed and constructed airplanes jointly with L. Blériot and H. Farman. From 1906 to 1909 he built eight airplanes of his own design, of which four were flown. Santos-Dumont’s flight on Oct. 23, 1906, over a distance of 60 m was recognized as the first in Europe.


Anoshchenko, N. D. “100 let so dnia rozhdeniia A. Santosa-Diumona.” In Iz istorii aviatsii i kosmonavtiki, issue 19. Moscow, 1973.
Gibbs-Smith, C. The Invention of the Aeroplane (1799–1909). London, 1966.
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