Updated 7 months, 1 week ago

Aviation pioneers: Wright brothers VS. Alberto Santos Dumont. Who was first?

The Olympics opening ceremony in Rio (Brazil) was the perfect stage to restart the never ending debate on who deserves to be called the aviation pioneer after placing the 14-Bis flight (Dumont’s design) as the main character of the event.

An exact copy of the 14-Bis flight was the protagonist of the Olympics ceremony in Rio, nonetheless it was not because of an Olympic achievement, but it was more a recall for the whole world to recognize Alberto Santos Dumont as the aviation pioneer.

The argue is based on the fact that almost 110 years ago, the 23rd of October in 1906, Santos Dumont made the 14-Bis flight reach the skies for the first time in the Bagatelle Field in Paris, staying on air for a distance of 60 meters.

This event caused the worldwide media to name Dumont the “Skies conqueror” after also being recognized as the first steerable globe inventor.


However, 3 years before this Dumont achievment, Wilbur and Orville Wright had already made it possible for an airplane to reach the skies, with 37, 53 and 61 meters distances gone over on the 17th of December of 1903.

All this already said, the reason why Brazilians still consider Dumont the pioneer of aviation is the fact that the Wright Brothers made it happen in different conditions during their multiple trials. Their achievement arrived in one of their trials in the Kitty Hawk Beach hill, in North Carolina.

So, now by knowing this, one can better understand the antagonism between the U.S. and Brazil, awaken after the opening ceremony of the Olympics in Rio

Polemic and irony took control of the social media. Starting with the mocking comments from U.S citizens and continuing with the Brazilians replies in a discussion that seemed to be going nowhere.

But, let’s go ahead check on more facts to give us some arguments to take a position in this situation.

To start, the Brazilian side, argues that while Dumont made the airplane fly in front of a big Parisian crowd including journalist and authorities, the Wright Brothers were seen by a couple of neighbors. But we cannot forget there were even earlier parties claiming for the patent the Wright Brothers gained on 22nd of May in 1906.

Some others like the Brazilian writer Rodrigo Moura, said to the BBC in 2003 Wilbur’s and Orville’s great deed was a result of the wind assistance for the flight.

In other words and to finish the argument, it is absolutely unacceptable that chronologically the Wright brothers made the first flight possible, so what Brazilian are looking recognition for, is actually for Dumont being the first controlling a heavy object, making it take off, stay on the air and landing.
This is something Brazilians will not discuss, so this was just the perfect stage for them to remind the world of Dumont.