Monday, November 10, 2008

Who invented the airplane?

2 of my students who don't know each other both told me within the last month that the Wright brothers didn't invent the first airplane. They told me that it was a Brazilian named Alberto Santos-Dumont, living in Paris, who indeed flew the first plane. One of them said that everyone talks about the Wright brothers being the inventors because they are from the US and "everyone" wants the inventors to be from the US (whoever "everyone" is).

So I decided to look it up on Wikipedia to see what facts are listed on there. Here is the clip about Alberto Santos-Dumont:


Alberto Santos-Dumont, Brazil — October 23, 1906
the "14 Bis" at Bagatelle field, Paris. Aero Club of France certified the distance of 60 meters (197 ft); height was about 2-3 meters (6-10 ft). Winner of the Archdeacon Prize for first official flight of more than 25 meters. Described by some scholars as the first "sportsman of the air". As reported in previous years and months for Ader, Whitehead, Pearse, Jatho and Vuia, the 14-Bis flew and landed without a rail, catapult, or the presence of high winds, propelled by its own (internal combustion) engine.

And here is what they say about the Wright brothers:

Orville & Wilbur Wright, United States — December 17, 1903
First recorded controlled, powered, sustained heavier than air flight, in Wright Flyer. In the day's fourth flight, Wilbur Wright flew 279 meters (852 ft) in 59 seconds. First three flights were approximately 120, 175, and 200 ft (61 m), respectively. The Wrights laid particular stress on fully and accurately describing all the requirements for controlled, powered flight and put them into use in an aircraft which took off from a level launching rail, with the aid of a headwind to achieve sufficient airspeed before reaching the end of the rail.

The date of the Wright brothers is in fact after the date of Alberto Santos-Dumont. So what do you think? Who really invented the airplane? Can we give credit to a Brazilian for our ability to fly around the world?

98 comments:

markuza said...

um- doesn't 1903 come before 1906?

Pedra said...

OK now I feel like a dumbass. I was looking at the months and not the years! But seeing this did make me wonder why folks here think that the Wright brothers didn't invent the airplane. Is it a mystery or just national pride?

markuza said...

I remember seeing a tv show a very very long time ago about several other supposed powered flights before the Wright brothers. Then again, it might have been on "In Search Of" which was never known for the quality of its journalism... Who knows? Maybe those dates were the best documented, and Santos Dumont did an undocumented flight before then. One thing I read about him that sounded really cool is that he used to fly around Paris in a blimp or something similar. He was also strongly opposed to military uses of aircraft.

Sonia said...

Every Brazilian learns that Santos Dumont is the father of aviation and then if they come to the US and hear of the Wright brothers - they get heartbroken :) I have not done any serious research to find out who was in fact the first...

Anonymous said...

Why do Brazilians consider Alberto Santos-Dumont the first man to fly if he didn't fly until 1906 and the Wright brothers did so in 1903?
- question from Rodrigo Moura Visoni

"... Santos-Dumont supporters claim that even though the Wrights may have flown in 1903, theirs was not a true flight since their plane required a catapult and a steady breeze to become airborne. In comparison, the 14-bis used conventional landing gear and was able to take off from an open field in calm air."

"While these claims do have some merit to them, what is often overlooked is the fact that many key details of the Wright Flyer had become public in Europe in 1904 once the Wrights had received their patent. It is generally believed that Santos-Dumont made extensive use of this information in the design of his plane and that he would not have been successful without the Wright's influence. Furthermore, even if the Wright's first flight is discounted, detractors often overlook that the pair made three more flights that same day, the longest covering 852 ft (260 m) and lasting nearly one minute. Even more impressive are the accomplishments of the Wright Flyer II in 1904. Among these was the world's first circular flight and a five minute trip covering nearly three miles (4.8 km) that occurred on 20 September 1904, two years before Santos-Dumont's first flight."

"Santos-Dumont supporters go on to argue that his flight was verified by the Aero-Club De Frances, the predecessor of today's Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) that is considered an objective international body for conferring aviation records. The only witnesses to the Wright brothers flights, however, were typically close friends and family. On the other hand, it should be noted that the Aero-Club was a much different group in 1906 than it is today. Not only was the Club in a feud with the Wrights because of the brother's perceived secretiveness and lack of cooperation, but several of its members were directly involved in and providing funding for the work of Santos-Dumont. Given this inherent conflict of interest, the partiality of the Aero-Club is still debated to this day. Regardless, no one can deny that Alberto Santos-Dumont made major steps in advancing the design of the aircraft, and his achievements are still highly regarded by aviation historians."
- answer by Joe Yoon, 15 August 2004



Americans are never going to convince Brazilians and vice versa. :-)

Anonymous said...

With all of this information, I'd have to go with Dumont. I guess it depends on which criteria one looks at. When it comes to the "first" true flight without the aid of any outside factors such as catapults or wind, Dumond takes it, even if it came later.

Clay said...

The brazilian, Santos Dumont. The wright brothers were in fact the first idiots to launch themselves of a railed platform into heavy wind. But then again if i tied a trash bag over my head and catapulted myself into a hurricane i might get more flight time then they did..

It is unargued that the wright brothers "design" of the airplane was most likely used by Santos Dumont when constructing his airplame. However if you take notice the entire design is totally different including all of its systems and operation, the only similarities are that of the two wooden things with clothing which at the time they called wings.

Santos Dumont's invention could take off with clear skys in a open field with no outside assistance or external factor.

Therefore the first technical TRUE flight was Santos Dumont and technically the father of aviation.

Anonymous said...

None of them two invented the airplane..there were many other "inventors" before them..but Santos Dumont was very more important than Wright brothers..If I had a catapult I'd fly too!!

luluozone2009 said...

The story of the Wright brothers as the investors of the airplane is one of those big lies in history. It is just another attempt by Americans to claim everything for themselves. Santos Dumont's airplane took off by itself; it did not need a catapult. The Wright brothers invented a glider. If there is any nationalism, it is on the part of Americans who have distorted history to make it American history.

gustavo said...

Im with Brazil , the wight brothers did a catapult to make the plane fly ,
Santos dumont made the plane fly by his self ,so he did better making the plane fly by his self :D
With a catapult i can fly too ;)

Anonymous said...

Im with Brazil , the wight brothers did a catapult to make the plane fly ,
Santos dumont made the plane fly by his self ,so he did better making the plane fly by his self :D
With a catapult i can fly too ;)

Tom said...

I know this is an older post, but I had to comment anyway.

I'm an American but I lived in Brazil from 1999 to 2001 and this debate has always intrigued me. I couldn't understand why it was such a heated debate. In the years since then, though, I think I have put my finger on it. I think the issue for the Brazilians is that they just don't want to lose this particular debate to an American. If it was any other country on the planet the debate would not be as heated. What if it was another French guy vs. Santo-Dumont? Or a German? I think the debate would remain, but at a nice even smolder rather than a raging inferno. This inferno produces all these off-shoot debates like definition of an airplane, but in all practicality it doesn't matter anymore. Due to the innovation of these pioneers (and hundreds of others who contributed but never got their names in history books--neither Santo-Dumont nor the Wright Brothers could have done it alone!) we now have the wonder of modern aviation. I love Brazil and it's people and one of the things I love about them is their intense patriotism, but this is one issue that needs to be let go.

Jake said...

Whats wrong with the catapult, either way they both needed thrust and got it and flew. The wright brothers flew for 5 minutes and 3 miles. Thats a pretty long flight. Who cares how they got up there, they still got up. No one can dispute the fact that they flew.

Henrique said...

Jake, that is called "gliding". Many men paraglided before 1900, are they the real fathers of aviation?

Josh luckes said...

Neither would! In 1903 the Wright brothers succeeded in planar 3 meters using a catapult for only 60 meters, was not an airplane, something was launched by catapult that could glide like a paper airplane. In 1906 Santos Dumont adapted an engine on a model glider and managed to fly 6 meters off the ground for 200 meters without aid of any catapults, wind, etc. .. merits

But Henri Coanda in 1901, created the first aircraft capable of soaring to 30 feet off the ground and did a fly by almost 1 km. And in 1910 Henri Coanda creates the first jet in history.

The merits of the wright brothers went patented the idea around 1903 before creating and putting into practice, since the purpose was to sell and profit from your invention or another, where the plane faithfully copied from Henri Coanda, when, and only in 1908 finally led to the publico first flew the brothers Wirght ...

The Wright brothers were the forgers capital at that time, they only merits Santos Dumont and Henri Coanda, where today 99% of the invention these two are used in commercial aircraft ...

You can not believe everything posing as truth in history, see for example the story of Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla ...

Anonymous said...

Jet airplanes take off from aircraft carriers by means of a catapult. Therefore by this logic, they should not be considered airplanes.

Anonymous said...

In 1903 the Wrights used an engine. 14 HP. They flew for 59 seconds. One year later they flew in a circle for 5 minutes. Then in 1905, in the flyer III Wilbur was airborne for 39 minutes covering 24 miles. Wilbur had to land due to his lack of fuel. All before Dumont lifted off. In 1908 they also made the first 2 person flight.
Like many inventors, they owe a debt to those who came before them, but indisputably they flew the first (second, and third!) powered winged aircraft.

Feeluk Nizzo ( felixpedro555@hotmail.com ) said...

The Wright Brothers didn't invented the airplane in 1903, but in 1909. They said that they flew ALONE with NO ONE close, for the first time at 1902, but they only tells the "truth" at 1909. and the "Airplane" invented by the brothers just flew with a CATAPULT help, and 14-bis flight by impulse of velocity in the floor (just like the actually ones).

Wright brothers invented bicycle :B

Alberto Santos Dummont: the father of the aviation!

Feeluk Nizzo ( felixpedro555@hotmail.com ) said...

Sorry for my VERY BAD english at ast post. I really couldn't write that. You know; hard phrases!

Look: i just came to say that i hate that who lives in EUA are americans. American thinks that they are ALL ameica. It is completely idiot. I'll never say "AMERICANOS" again, but "ESTADOUNIDENSES"... "Estadounidenses" is somethig like Unitadestatellians (of course that, in portuguese, this word is officially okay, but people STILL WANT TO SAY "AMERICANS"!)

Evan said...

Obs para Feeluk Nizzo:
O povo dos EUA sao chamados "Americanos" nao por causa do Continente "América Do Norte", mas porque moram no País chamado "Estados Unidos Das Americas" O país é das "Americas" nao é o país dos "Estados". O Senhor tem muito orgulho ao falar tantas besteiras, e na verdade, suas palavras sao uma porcaria e uma vergonha para nosso país. Moramos no Continente América do Sul, mas somos chamados de Brasileiros, pois moramos no País do Brasil. Nosso apelido como um povo vem do País e nao do Continente. Se arrependa e deixe de ser orgulhoso.

Markus said...

I'm with Santos because 14-bis was selfpropelled. The Wrights started to use the catapult on September 1904 with the Flyer II, but before that they needed strong headwinds in order to take-off and ONE MORE IMPORTANT THING that everybody are forgetting;the Wrights were using a central rail suitably positioned and secured on the ground to determine the line from which the aircraft should lift off. Use of a centrally placed skid MUST REQUIERE the aircraft to be supported by men at the wingtips to keep it level until the moving aircraft was under the control of the pilot. Photographs show men at the wingtips running alongside until they were no longer required to support the aircraft in level flight. Take a look of two short hops of a 1903 "flyer I" replica and you can see men supporting the wingtips
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1mscspl-VU and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kg46QLzO3b0 you can see also the pothograph of the Orville Wright first flight on 17 december 1903, Wilbur Wright was at the right wingtip http://www.aerospaceweb.org/question/history/top10/wright-flyer.jpg
When they started to use the catapult they didn't need men. They used the catapult until november 1908 with the Flyer "Model A", but this machine used a 35 HP engine, more than two times the power of the 15 HP engine of the Flyer II. They Also added New propellers with larger blades and better performace on oct 3 1908.You can check their diary.

Joey said...

I am with the Wright Brothers. The main argument in favor of Santos-Dumont is that "The Wright brothers didn't fly, they glided". Well when you look at the etymological roots of the word airplane you will see that the original word 'aeroplane' can be broken down as follows:"Aero"+
"plane". Aero is Greek for air and Planer is french for "to glide". Therefore any machine or object that "glides through the air" is an airplane!

I am American and have lived in Brazil four times. This is a very proud country, and are very jealous of the United States in particular. Get over it!

Henrique said...

Joey
you went too literally into the concept. The airplane today is a self-propelled vehicle, not a "glider". It's ok that the WB glided before Dumont, but Dumont brought the AIRPLANE concept to reality as it is today. Get over it!

Paul-Henri said...

Is this a joke??? The WB were on a freaking track with a catapult!!! And they still want to claim that as the first flight? Santos Dumont Flew with no outside help, he didnt need a lot of wind of a track or a freaking CATAPULT! Oh my my, even this crap now... Im from France and we learn hw Santos made the first flight, and got to hear this crap now with catapult and a crap load of wind lolol

Ethanol said...

I'm Brazilian and American so luck :) I love both countries
santos dumond house is in petropolis rio de janeiro
I visit his house it's so small and is open for visitors
Santos dumond was a very superstitious all the steps of stair were designed to first step with the right foot ;)
also Besides the air plan Santos dumond invented also the Pulse watch in patnership with his friend Louis Cartier

We have already so many great things invented by USA.

Let's give the credit of the first airplane to the Brazilian Santos Dumond

Anderson said...

There's no such thing as who invented the airplane, they both were pionneers of aviation. even Da Vinci had done some draws of an airplane design

scnunes said...

actually da vinci made sketches of helicopters.

Anonymous said...

santos dumont com certeza é o pai da aviaçao.
usa superem isso!!!!

Anonymous said...

U.S.A is stupid!!

João Ricardo said...

Someone mentioned the jets that take of from ships. They use catapults because there's not enough room to take off from the ship. When they're on lando, they can take off by their own. It's very different from a glider. Someone said "who cares if they used a catapult", well modern aviantion does, since it would't exist if we still had to lauch every plane with catapults and loads of winds so that we could fly from one place to another. The invention of a plane that could get on air buy it's one is what made possible to invent the airplanes we know today.

Wagner said...

Well people I think that this post was really good to clarify a pretty old discussion.

Santos Dumont was a great man, a man ahead of his time, he was a inventor and has done much more than just the first flight without any kind of external help. Dumont was totally against the use of airplanes as weapons, and people say that after seeing the way that the humanity was using the planes he committed suicide.

The biggest problem that i see is that television programs, when talking about airplanes and the history of it, never show both sides of the history. It's not fault of the people of the United States, the thing is that every time they hear about the airplane invention they hear about WB, that they have done it by themselves. The history is actually made on the present!!!

I'm Brazilian and have been in the US a few times and lived in the UK and I see that a lot of people see Brazil just as a beautiful place to visit, with awesome beaches and a place with pretty women, well it's all true but you guys can be sure that we are much more than that (and it is good to see that this view of Brazil is changing, now a days we can see many people with a much better notion about Brazil and about the World!!!).

That is all I have to say.

stefan said...

actually it was Traian Vuia, in february 23rd 1903 who made the first flight. the reason why didn't hear so much about him is that at his first flight, the french academy didn't send a representative as they felt it was utterly impossible and completely fiction that a machine heavier than the air could get airborne

Anonymous said...

In the documented flights of the wright brothers (before santos dumont), did they fly? Yes.

Did their plane have a motor that propelled it through the air? Yes.

Most reasonable, objective people (without patriotic biases) will conclude that the wright brothers were the first in flight based on these definitions.

Anonymous said...

(continued)

Now, regarding the comments about the WB's plane being merely a "glider." The arguments posted here is that the WB's plane was only a glider as it required a catapult...well, news to all of you, gliders today can self-propel themselves into the air...does this make them airplanes? No! A catapult mechanism is not the defining attribute between a glider and an airplane.

Anonymous said...

(continued)
Now, arguments are arguments, but the facts are that the wright brothers flew the first motorized, self-propelled (through the air) plane, and they even patented their invention years before Dumont. Brazilians will continue to believe what they believe because they are easily deceived (agreed to by many brazilian friends)...in fact, many brazilians still believe that if you eat mangos with milk you will die.

Henrique said...

/\
The very definition of airplane is a vehicle that presents self-sustained take-off, flight, and landing; something that also uses wings to provide its lift-force. The Wright Brothers' did not achieve this, and is considered a mere glider. Anyway, which glider you have seen that is self-propelled, young padawan?

And about the mango with milk crap, it is a simple superstition created by landlords to prevent slaves from eating mangos and milk provenient from the farm (which is, of course, counterproductive), during COLONIAL era. Every society has someone who still believes otherwise unbelievable stuff, so you can't generalize while dealing with brazilians.

The fact is: Santos Dumont still invented a fully functional AIRPLANE while the Wright Brothers were boasting of their little glider.

Anonymous said...

1903...
This motorized vehicle that flies through the air, what do you call it?
1904....
This motorized vehicle that flies by propelling itself through the air, what do you call it?
1905 ....This vehicle with a motorized propeller and wings that is flying through the air for many miles propelling itself through the air..higher and higher..around in circles....what do you call it?


A car roles, a boat sails, but this other motorized vehicle which propels itself through the air and
remains in the air due to its motorized propeller and the 'lift' forces which it has created...what do you call this vehicle? 1903...1904....1905
(And, no a glyder cannot do this.)

Bersch said...

Only americans think the Wright brothers invented the airplane, ask anywhere else in the world and the answer you'll hear is Santos Dumont!

Anonymous said...

I am sure Alberto Santos Dumont was the first person to fly an airplane americans are always trying to take credit for something they did not do but this time history reveals itself. I am from Brazil I was born there wnt to school there and I learned that Santos Dumont was the first person to fly the airplane. Brazilians take all the credit on this one.

Anonymous said...

I am a brasilian I´ve studied aviation history. I´ve traveled around the world and discovered that only in Brasil people think that Santos Dumont invented the airplane. This is ancient history, problably boosted by the former military goverment. The sad is that we lack national heros and identity in this mediocre country, and instead of improving our capacity we create ones. It is childish to insist in Santos Dumont and brasilians should read more. They think that te catapult used by Whright brothers (a linear acceleration device) was some kind of medieval Trebuchet.

1 said...

Tell me one thing guys, when you see an modern airplane going up in the air, you see an catapult behind him? Wright's did a real flight in 1903, but Dummond also did it in 1901 in a "flying machine". But the point here is who invented the "airplane" right? Airplane means a flying machine taht can comes up in the air with hes own power. or im wrong?

1 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

The Wright brothers invented their flying machine in 1903, but in 1906, a Brazilian living in France and going by the name Alberto Santos-Dumont, successfully flew a proper fixed wing airplane. There are many historians who answer the question of 'who invented the airplane' with Dumont's name, as they believed that the Wright brothers simply created a model that utilized the gliding principles already in place.

Anonymous said...

The wrights documented flying in 1903 but they did not feel comfortable showing an audience until 1908. But in 1903 all they have is 1 bad picture and a few eye witnesses, and the plane crashed right after which to me is not a controlled fly. Alberto Santos Dumont started testing since 1901. He had designs of airplanes and helicopters even before 1901. And he was comfortable with his invention to show a big crowd and the world by 1906. And he did not crash, he landed safely. The reason lots of people think it was the Wrights is because they got a patent first on the idea and they could sue anyone who tried to compete, in fact they did sue at least one person for sure that I know of. Now if they could prove so well that they invented first than why get a patent? Because they knew others around the world and even in the US were ahead of them. So yes they documented and got a patent first but that was it.

Anonymous said...

How about a little research to get to the truth? I encourage you to read Paul Hoffman’s Book “Wings of Madness: Alberto Santos-Dumont and the Invention of Flight” (“http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1636730.Wings_of_Madness). You should know more about Alberto Santos Dumont and the controversial surrounding the airplane fathership. The fact is that Dumont invented the first plane that could fly by itself (without any external help) and break air resistance, even being heavier then it. The event was very well documented in film, photos and French aviation authorities were there to testify this. The Wright brother’s flight was “secret”. Besides, their “first flight” just happened with the help of a catapult device (did not fly by itself) and some say that only 5 witnesses viewed it. The event had no film or even photographic evidence (the picture that exists is from 1909), and more important, NOBODY ever made a replica of their plane that could fly (although they TRIED)! How can anyone believe it? This seems more a matter of faith then scientific evidence. Anyone can register an “invention” patent, but without proof this means nothing. I can register the invention of a “teleportation machine”, but if I don’t show it and prove my invention, this “patent” will be as valuable as a 3 dollar bill note. Santos Dumont plane was replicated more than once and it CAN fly. His plane Demoiselle is what resembles more to modern planes. So, saying that Wright brother’s 1903 plane as the first to break air resistance is a joke. Dumont’s plane was the first that really did it. The major evidence about American ignorance is that there almost nobody even knows about his existence, despite the great importance of Dumont for aviation history.

Anonymous said...

One of the best essays about the controversy: http://www.airshowfan.com/first-airplane.htm

Anonymous said...

Please just read that ok!? But read it!

http://www.cbpf.br/Publicacoes/SantosDumontINGLES.pdf

It's a small book explaining all that mess, done by the Brazilian Center for Physics Research-CBPF/MCT.

Cheers

Xingú said...

Of course, Santos Dumont invented the airplane, because his machine was heavier than the air. Wright brothers just did something predictable. I m proud of my fellow contryman ALBERTO SANTOS DUMONT.
Brasil has developed the most useful airplanes with less money than the other imperialist nations.
EMBRAER power

Xingú said...

Of course, Santos Dumont invented the airplane, because his machine was heavier than the air. Wright brothers just did something predictable. I m proud of my fellow contryman ALBERTO SANTOS DUMONT.
Brasil has developed the most useful airplanes with less money than the other imperialist nations.
EMBRAER power

Xingú said...

Of course, Santos Dumont invented the airplane, because his machine was heavier than the air. Wright brothers just did something predictable. I m proud of my fellow contryman ALBERTO SANTOS DUMONT.
Brasil has developed the most useful airplanes with less money than the other imperialist nations.
EMBRAER power

Xingú said...

Of course, Santos Dumont invented the airplane, because his machine was heavier than the air. Wright brothers just did something predictable. I m proud of my fellow contryman ALBERTO SANTOS DUMONT.
Brasil has developed the most useful airplanes with less money than the other imperialist nations.
EMBRAER power

Xingú said...

Of course, Santos Dumont invented the airplane, because his machine was heavier than the air. Wright brothers just did something predictable. I m proud of my fellow contryman ALBERTO SANTOS DUMONT.
Brasil has developed the most useful airplanes with less money than the other imperialist nations.
EMBRAER power

GPVD said...

Call me old fashioned - but since everyone here says the WB's flew in a glider while SD flew a plane - can't we just agree that the glider is a plane - and that SD's plane was a vast improvement on the WB's contraption. Without the wagon idea, there would not have been a car. The oxen were the engine... etc etc etc.

Henriks said...

you ARE being old fashioned. It's like saying thomas edson is only partially creditable for inventing the light bulb cuz someone invented candles before. WB didn't even invent the glider, that had already been done.

A glider is not a plane.. and SB had the breakthrough. How can it be simpler?

HeartAce said...

Actually, it's very well known to technology historians that at least 22 different inventors had invented working light bulbs before Thomas Edison. Edison's contribution was the first reliable and commercially successful light bulb with a system for powering it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incandescent_light_bulb


To put both the Wright Brothers and Santos-Dumont into perspective, just take a look at the long list of glider/airplane inventors who made progress before them:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_aviation_-_19th_century

The point is, most great inventions were the products of many different inventors contributing ideas over many years. Both Wright Brothers and Santos-Dumont deserve some credit, as do many others. No single person invented the airplane by himself.

Hugo V. Guerra said...

My great, great, great, great grandfather invented the car in the late 1700s. Let me explain you what happened:

First they put the "car" in a rail. I know what you are going to say but the rail was only to make the car stable through the speed up process, ok? Then, they were pulled by 20 budwiser horses for about a minute. After that they were released and voila! The car was born. He drove for about 20 minutes downhill(was he NOT suppose to take advance of the terrain?) but had an engine; I swear!

There were about 23 witnesses! First was my grandpa, my granny, their servant and the 20 horses!

Nobody knew this till now but if you look somewhere in some patten office, you will see their designs and everything!

Sound familiar? LOL

chiaravaladares said...

First and foremost Cheryl, only qualified historians dedicated to the subject of aviation and competent authorities could give anybody this type of credit, so it is not up to us bloggers to do so.

The truth is the title of "inventor" of the airplane has never been officially credit to one specific individual, or in this case, siblings. Besides, there are many types of aircrafts and airplanes that have been invented througout history so one would have to specify in this case, what type of flying machine they are considering.

Most importantly, the dream of flying was never exclusive to one person or group of people and has historicaly belonged to all humanity. So the concept of humans being able to fly with a device is much older than the subjects of this dispute. Last but not least, it is not a matter of the Wright brothers inventing the airplane and the rest of the world following. The passion for aviation was spread around the world, especially in Europe when the brothers were still only toddlers. Many machines were invented during the period of 1890's to 1910's. And we shall not forget the considerable contribution of the French people to aviation, which could be the subject of another comment.

Actually, there is no dispute and Santos Dumont was not concerned with glory and fame. He was an extraordinarily intelligent man who was passionate and dedicated to aviation all his life. In fact, long before the Wright brothers were playing with their catapult-launched flying machine (more like a hanglider), Santos Dumont had already created one of the world's first airship or dirigible which granted him with the all important Deutsch the la Meurthe prize in 1901 which made him famous around the world.

Santos Dumont's first completely independent and practical engine airplane made its first public flight in France in 1906 registering the world's first flight record, by flying 220 metres in 21.5 seconds, which gave Dumont world recognition. Also, his flight is the first to have been certified by the Aéro Club de France and the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI).

The Wright Brothers machine's first flights were only registered by themselves, with photographs.

At best, the Wright Brothers can be considered two of the many fathers of aviation.

No offense to anyone but, it is common sense everywhere but in North America, that Americans tend to give themselves a lot more credit than they deserve. This meaningless credit dispute on the world's first airplane is partialy due to the history taught in the American school system which tend to overlook the rest of the world's history and focus on American history, and which in turn helped to lead to this distortion of reality. Also due to the focus on marketing and publicity, a cultural trademark strategy of American society used to seek the attention they crave.

In Brazil, Santos Dumont is and always have been considered THE father of aviation. However, in North America, those who want to sound educated are quick to declare the W.Brothers the heroes of aviation. Well, in Brazil we call that "Almanac knowledge" which means whatever is easier and quicker to memorize. The matter at hand here is very similar to Thomas Crapper and Sir John Harrington's toilet. The first guy is the businessman and the second, the real inventor.

Most Americans don't even know of the existence of Santos Dumont. The ironic part is that Brazilians know of the Wright brothers.

Bottom line is that no, the Wright brothers are not the world's official inventors of the airplane.

Glad to help.

Anonymous said...

Well I'm Brazilian, but I know that the inventor of the airplane was the Frenchman Clément Ader in 1890. But it was never put to the public because it was a military secret.

Mateus Cruz said...

The Americans are leaving the pride close your eyes. With a cataputa a man could fly or be thrown?

Anonymous said...

Brazil did invent the airplane and we should give credit to them for that ..just because America is one of the top countries doesn't mean that other countries can't do things and why do you put heartbroken with a smiley face after it ?

Anonymous said...

Well if it were you. I bet you would be jelous Too if some other country was given credit for a big thing that we use today when they didn't even do a thing. They aren't gonna get over it because the Brazilian man did make the airplane And it's not fair for them. Obviously America isn't going to admit It.

Anonymous said...

Thankyou you are completely right!

Anonymous said...

I am Brazilian too!

Anonymous said...

Uhhh no they don't believe that ok stop being so judgemental to brazilians .brazilians are the best and they did invent the plane Americans are just to stuck up to admit that the wb didn't invent the airplane if it werent for the brazilians there wouldn't be planes like these now ..also let them believe want they want to believe If it weren't for your friends to tell you about the wright brothers then u wouldn't believed it in the first place so obviously you don't know what your talking about

Anonymous said...

Everyone can fly even without wings if propeled by a catapult. Alberto Santos Dumont invented the first airplane as we know. American people, sorry but I think you should learn to accept the true

Anonymous said...

It would be impossible to say who invented the airplane as so many countrys claim they did it first.
But as far as far as the first powered flight goes it was by new zealander Richard Pearse, in March 31, 1902. Waitohi, New Zealand.

Anonymous said...

To me is very clear that Santos Dumont deserve to be the airplane inventor. His airplane could fly to anywhere and make curves and everything and if you put a rock with wings in a catapult it will fly too, at least for a little time. It is so easy to understand.

Anonymous said...

Anyway I think everybody should know that Brazil make the best projects and designs of airplanes and helicopters in the world.
We just have to accept it.

Anonymous said...

It's not about what country the inventor is from. NOBODY said other countries can't do things, but the fact of the matter is, the Wright brothers reached self propelled flight years before Dumont.

Anonymous said...

But one thing about the "catapult" argument. Don't most aircraft carriers today use a catapult system? Does this mean that those aren't true airplanes?

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry Brazilians but the Americans got there first. So what if he used a catapult? ALL aircraft carriers today use catapult systems to get their planes to fly, so does that discredit fighter jets as airplanes? Even with a catapult the Wright brothers wouldn't have gotten as far without their engine, hence, the first propelled flight.

Anonymous said...

Gliding for 3 miles at that low of an altitude? I think not!

Anonymous said...

I mean we are the only nation to have"America" in our name so it makes sense to call us "Americans"

Anonymous said...

What do you mean we didn't do a thing? we got the credit because we were the FIRST ones to build a self propelled winged aircraft. It may have needed a catapult to get off the ground but once it was up there it was flying. It's fair and square.

Anonymous said...

The WB did but glide, they flew! There were engines on the aircraft! It was self propelled !

Anonymous said...

The definition of an airplane is a vehicle that can utilize thrust, and lift to continually and effectively sustain it's flight. The Wright brothers DID in fact achieve this, and they achieved it before Dumont.

Anonymous said...

WB came first sorry. BUT SD made the first practical model.

Anonymous said...

SANTOS DUMMONT did it!

Anonymous said...

Well it doesn't matter. It happened with motorcycles to. Americans invented the first motorcycle and yet people ay the Germans invented which is a lie because we invented the motorcycle. So now its the same with the airplane. It doesn't matter if there was a catapult that had to help, the first thing thing to at least be in the air will be the first thing to be invented. Just like the helicopters that was made, before the stiff rotorblades which the Americans made. The French made it. It flew in the sky and that was the first ever helicopter. So it doesn't matter. Airplane was invented in America. The airplane does gonna have to stop anyways. So really it doesn't matter. America made the first ever plane.

diego said...

the Wright brothers flew through a catapult and Santos Dumont was the one who managed to get the ground plane with an engine.

Anonymous said...

whats wrong with you people???!!!

dont you know the British invented evrything? - lol

Sir George Cayley, (the founder of the science of aerodynamics), credited as the first person to separate the forces of lift and drag which are in effect on any flight vehicle, in 1799 he set forth the concept of the modern airplane as a fixed-wing flying machine with separate systems for lift, propulsion, and control

The first self-powered fixed-wing aircraft which we'd probably recognise today as a plane was created by Englishman John Stringfellow, whose unmanned model made its first successful flight in 1848

Henrique said...

Stringfellow developed an unmanned aircraft based on steam power, which was incapable of practical flight or carrying people. Yes it was a great concept, but just in theory.

PESSOA DESIGN said...

If Steve Jobs was alive... tell-me wich one product he pickup??? Santos Dumont was a perfeccionist like any genius! He is a kind of geek and excentric he rocks Paris (mind this a place in the golden age of picasso, salvador dali, Hemingway and others, and he rocked a lot! Americans don´t like romantic people because they have to stay only in the movie or brodway industrie. But this guy is a kind of Da vinci! Let´s stop to think in means of countries and let´s give for this great man the credits of his invention! Viva Santos Dumont! Viva!

Anonymous said...

Wright flyer and all airplanes have roll, pitch, and yaw. Santos' didn't. Every goddamn light construction plane takes off into the wind. The wright flyer 2 was shown off to many people outside KittyHawk and documented in 1904. It is documented that they were patented for it before Santos flight. And how can Santos have used their design and data, if he was first. Lastly, they used a rail only because their tests were done at a beach. It was a solution to a problem. They worked with wheels all the time, which is why they had wheels once the left the sand in 1904. Stop trying to rewrite history. And guess what, we are called Americans by everyone, and you are not, so suck it!

Anonymous said...

You moron, every light construction has to take off in a strong wind! Any idiot who knows anything about aerodynamics understands that. Santos did it and so did everyone else. It doesn't matter if they took off from a mono-rail. Are you saying a carrier based catapult propelled plane is not an airplane? And Santos' plane could not roll, and had to have an under rudder. So he did not have an airplane! An airplane requires controls for Roll, Pitch, and Yaw. Stop trying to rewrite history! And Americans are called Americans because it is the United States of America. Brazilians are from Brazil.

Anonymous said...

No, it's about truth not pity for you and your country. Get over it. It is well known he actually used some of their designs. Where as The Wrights corrected Lilenthal's incorrect calculations, and documented their original process. Why are we even discussing this? Brazil's arrogance is unbelievable. You invented the airplane, right? Then why is it that over the next 20 years in America, you see the plane's quantum jump in technology, but not in Brazil. Ridiculous. Every Professional outside of Brazil acknowledges the Wright Brothers as the first to create an actual airplane.

Anonymous said...

Hey moron, the Wright flyer had an engine. It wasn't a glider. Santos contraption didn't have controls for roll. Santos had to launch his craft in strong head winds as well, because any moron who understands aerodynamics gets that you can't take off without them, using the power ratios possible then. The monorail was used instead of wheels because they were on sand. 1903 and flights with people 1904, the patent, all done before Santos and his no control machine.

Anonymous said...

It wasn't a catapult. It was a track that they skidded down. It didn't provide power for the airplane. It only gave them a surface that was stable. The argument that it was a catapult is wrong. The catapult wasnt invented. The airplane had an engine that rotated the propeller that carried the plane forward on skids into strong coastal winds and then the plane took off traveling 800 feet. It had roll, pitch, and yaw. Santos plane couldn't really be controlled and had no roll. The Wrights had multiple flights and different airplanes and a patent by the time Santos "flew" into strong winds that any light construction craft needs because of power to weight ratios. Brazilians who don't recognize these things actually know nothing about aerodynamics. It speaks volumes of their arrogance and false vanity more than anything else, not who invented the first working airplane.

Anonymous said...

Ok, I'm gonna write my opinion. I don't give a s*** about who invented first. Just shut up both SD supporters and WB supporters. SD surely didn't invented it alone. Neither did WB. But we have to consider that without WB SD would probably not make a decent plane. And we also have to remember that SD made the idea of a plane more "possible". Who did first is an idiot question. If I make a new joke, who can prove I copied it from somewhere? Are we all against each other? Is this what the world is made of? War? Conflict? Nation against nation? I can assure you that without me or your parents or your family or friends or even someone we never heard about, we wouldn't be the same.

Anonymous said...

Cara! foi o Santos Dumont e ponto final,brasileiros também inventam coisas!!!!!!!!!!!

shayne hamil said...

The catapult is irrelevant.The mark was to achieve self powered sustained flight, not self powered take off. Also, 3 years is plenty of time or someone to take an invention and improve upon it or pass up with independent development. They both should be recognized as they are. The Americans took to flight first, the Brazilian took to flight 3 years later and were able to to do so without the use of a catapult. If anyone has seen the clips the wright brother's plane is not thrown into the air like a rock, it is merely assisted. by the rail launch. Which by the way, even if it was used in modern day, planes can land just about anywhere, but they need a runway to take off. So no catapultwaw merely an improvement of an existing platform (a.k.a. the kitty hawk)

shayne hamil said...

The brazillian/French plane maybe be better. But it is not first.

Jacqueline said...

Before the 14-bis in 1906, Santos-Dumont designed, built, and flew the first practical dirigible, demonstrating that routine, controlled flight was possible. This "conquest of the air", in particular his 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. So, if any kind of plane counts, Santos-Dumont invented first.

Avionics testers | AvionTEq said...

These are fascinating facts on aircraft history. SD and WB supporters are taking the commentaries seriously!

ElisDTrailz said...

This is all a matter of semantics and in reality both parties contributed greatly towards the field of aviation. If you had to specifically name "who invented the first practical airplane?" it would indeed be Dumont. If the question asked "who flew the first heavier than air, fixed wing aircraft", it would be the Wright Brothers. Many people are posting comments such as "the WB did their tests in secret", but this is only partially correct. The early Kitty Hawk flights were indeed only attended by a handful of people, but were in fact open to the public. Since very few people lived in Kitty Hawk at the time, very few showed up. Also on October 5th 1905 in Dayton, OH Wilbur Wright few for 24 miles in front of hundreds of people. This whole glider debate is an extremely foggy issue depending on how one defines a glider. There are indeed gliders that are powered and take off like modern airplanes with an internal combustion engine (called motorized gliders), but are not considered airplanes since their engines are powered down in flight. This seems to be the exact opposite of the what the WB built; ie, assisted takeoff but powered flight. Additionally, gliders do not create their own lift but need an external source such as thermals, so again this is the opposite of what the WB built. This argument really depends on the word "airplane" and is why this debate will continue to rage. If you define airplane as "fixed wing aircraft" then by that definition the WB were the first to fly. If you define the word as we would think of modern airplanes today, as the Aero-Club de Frances does, the the prize is Dumont's. The issue becomes even more cloudy when is comes to other criteria such as controllability. By the time of Dumont's flight, the WB were able to stay in flight for hours doing such feats as figure 8's, while Dumont's first flight in 1906 was barely controlled - all that could be done was an incredibly shakey
straight line. Both parties contributed to the aviation field and both parties used each other's ideas so again, this debate is semantics. If pressed to give the tile to a single party, the invention that is closest to today's ariplane, I would say Dumont. BTW, I am American and despite numerous comments on this board that says "all Americans are stupid, and arrogant", I am trying to be completely impartial and look at the facts, not politics like so many other of you are doing here. BTW an incredibly well written and factual article is written here regarding this topic. http://www.airshowfan.com/first-airplane.htm

Ev said...

Me,
Well, in 1901 Alberto Santos Dumont won the prize for flying around Paris in less than 30 minutes with a controlled motorized dirigible which made him internationally famous. After that he started working on his heavier than air flying machine, so the end of 1906 he flew the first PUBLIC recorded flight in France, now here comes my question to all of you.
Hundreds of people were watching including inventors... The Wright brothers claimed they flew in 1903 and they have picture and eye witness that saw, the news paper were always late or never invited and they said its because of corporation or waiting for patent or contract... If you look at the picture from 1903, then look at the picture from 1908 when they did the first public flight... here comes the question: Don't you think that the air plane they flew was very similar design that Alberto Santos Dumont flew in 1906????? Of course with improvements!!!!! To me, sounds like they were not ready with their project yet, and they need the key part to make it flight beautifully like they did and impressed the world. Also, if you really were the first, when you heard that someone else claimed that they publicly flew first, your first reaction would be come out of shades and show up to tell everyone that it was wrong. Also they were very smart guys, they could have played the history, I am not saying they did, but its possible that they finalized their project after Dumont's invention and tried somehow to earn the credit since only family and friends would see them flight, and they probably did, but I am not sure if that was by the controlled engine. It could be a jump from the top of the hill with winds, the motor could be there but was it keeping the plane in the because of that? or was it because of their success with gliders? I have many more questions to the history... Thats why I believe that whats official and in public should be the person credited for the history. Living no doubts, god knows if the documents they have are really from 1903, even if it is... How did he start the flight? Landed and kept in air?? Maybe down hill, wind in favor, engine not helping at all just there? I hope they really did it so the history as is now was fair to this guys and not unfair to Alberto Santos Dumont.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to all my american and brazilian friends. First flying machine was built and flew by Mr. Talpade of Mumbai, India in 1895, 8 years earlier than Wright Brothers.

Hugo Toledo said...

the real inventor is really santos dummond,the real flight of the 14 bis was in 1896 not in 1906