Brazilian aviation pioneer (1873-1932). An avid reader and exceptional student, he had read all of Jules Verne's books by the age of 10 and had his parents' permission to drive the steam tractors on the family's plantation. After his father suffered an accident which left him partially paralyzed, the family moved to France, hoping for a cure, but his father died in 1892. Dumont completed his studies in Paris and built his first dirigible, which he called "Number 1".

In 1901, he was the first person to fly a dirigible from Saint Cloud Park to the Eiffel Tower and back in less than 30 minutes, earning the Deutsch de la Meurth prize. While celebrating, he was indirectly responsible for a popular invention when he complained to a friend, Louis Cartier, that he was unable to check his pocket watch during the flight because he couldn't take his hands off the controls. Cartier went out and invented the wristwatch.

Dumont started work on a powered biplane in 1906. To test it, he mounted it under his number 14 dirigible and freed it in flight. In October, the "14-bis" successfully took off before a group of judges from the Aero-Club de France and landed safely after flying about 200 feet, winning a prize of 3,000 francs for being the first pilot to fly at least 25 meters in a self-powered machine. In November, he flew 720 feet, winning another prize for being the first person to fly more than 100 meters.

After that, he created the Model 20, or the "Demoiselle", which was capable of flights longer than ten miles at speeds of almost 60 miles per hour. The Demoiselle is considered more influential in aeronautics than the 14-bis.

In 1910, Dumont fell ill with multiple sclerosis. He also became depressed because, as a pacifist, he did not accept the use of aircraft as instruments of war in World War I. He returned to Brazil and, after the beginning of a local conflict in which his planes were used as war machines, committed suicide.

Brazilians still regard Dumont as the "Father of Aviation". Of course, the Wright Brothers made the first heavier-than-air flight at Kitty Hawk in 1903, but Brazilians point out that the 14-bis, unlike the Wrights' plane, was capable of taking off without external aid, and that Dumont invented the aileron. In addition to airplanes, Dumont is credited with other inventions, including designs for hangars and sliding doors. He also worked unsuccessfully on designs for helicopter-like and float-equipped aircraft.

Research from GURPS Who's Who, compiled by Phil Masters, "Alberto Santos Dumont" by Leonardo M. Holschuh, pp. 114-115.

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