Alberto Santos-Dumont, Pioneer of Aviation

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Alberto Santos-Dumont was an early pioneer of aviation. He was born and died in Brazil. Heir of a prosperous coffee producer family, Santos-Dumont dedicated himself to science studies in Paris.

Santos-Dumont designed, built, and flew the first practical dirigible balloons. In doing so he became the first person to demonstrate that routine, controlled flight was possible. This "conquest of the air", in particular winning the Deutsch de la Meurthe prize on October 19, 1901 on a flight that rounded the Eiffel Tower, made him one of the most famous people in the world during the early 20th century.

In addition to his pioneering work in airships, Santos-Dumont made the first public flight of an airplane in Europe on October 23, 1906. Designated 14-bis or Oiseau de proie (French for "bird of prey"), the flying machine was the first fixed-wing aircraft officially witnessed to take off, fly, and land. Santos-Dumont is considered the "Father of Aviation" in Brazil, his country of birth.

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