Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Aviator Day in Brazil

That's Santos Dumont, of Brazil, and some people believe, though it's in dispute, that he and not the Wright Brothers of America is the founder of modern aviation. He is at least one of early powered flight's great characters. Certainly, unlike the secretive, workmanlike Wright Brothers, Dumont was among the first to luxuriate publicly in the sheer joy of powered, manned flight.

{On the other hand, he really didn't live all that much time in Brazil, which had little to do with his accomplishments. See a reader's note at the bottom.}

No need to impose any further irony on the current situation. It's Aviator Day in Brazil, and attention should be paid. Thus this from the Jornal do Brazil, translation from the Portuguese as usual by Richard Pedicini in Sao Paulo. But do note the slightly defensive undercurrent with the side current of xenophobia. Sounds familiar to me:

"Dahas C. Zarur

There is no doubt on Santos Dumont's flight. It was undertaken on October 23, 1906 under the eyes of an immense crowd and the French Air Club, under the presidency of Ernesto Achdeacon, signed a historic document, giving to the Brazilian aviator priority as the first human to fly in a heavier than air craft, impelled by a motor - an achievement never reached in the long history of Mankind.

Any sort of propaganda is useless that has the objective of usurping the glory of Santos Dumont acclaimed by kings and by the people on dismounting from his 14 Bis, formed by a set of Hargrave-type kite cells, made of a a bamboo screen, with a 50 hp motor. Santos Dumont flew in the eyes of Paris, then the capital of the world, and covered 200 meters in 21 seconds, corresponding to a velocity of 41km/h. Citizen of the world, on returning to Brazil, in a visit to his family, singer Eduardo Alves saluted him: "Europe bows to Brazil and shouted congratulations in tender tones; there shines in the sky one more star. Santos Dumont appeared."

Nothing will destroy the glory of that Brazilian who, tired of being news, stopped flying in 1910, dedicating himself to literature. He traveled the world, spreading the sensations and risks of being an aviator, his hard life, the hard tests he was submitted to (painful and difficult tests) until he made his first flight, and from this after flying without knowing if he would reach his destination, if they would return to their homes, to their families, hours and hours, days and days without setting foot on earth. That is what happened. Man could fly like the birds. Today, distances have been made shorter, thanks to the airplane and the expertise, the dexterity of aviators. A trip that was made in months, can be realized in hours. Today the skies are full to gigantic aircraft, carrying hundreds of people, on comfortable and secure voyages to the most distant points of the universe, with highly qualified personnel.

Santos Dumont, in 1904, wrote "Dans l'air" translated by Miranda Bastos, with the title "My Balloons" ["Meus Balões " is the Portuguese].

"My Balloons" was carefully written. In it, Santos Dumont tells of his infancy and his life as an argonaut before inventing the airplane. He had no greater concern than in describing the emotions of the Deutsch Prize - which he won on October 13, 1901, when in a dirigible balloon he circled he circled the Eiffel Tower and returned to Saint Cloud within the rigorous time of 30 minutes. It was at this moment that pacifist leader Jean Jaurés wrote:"Today were are all in the shadow on one man."Tired of being in headlines, he stopped flying in 1910, after playing in the skies of Paris with his minuscule Demoiselle. He dove deep into literature and wrote a series of articles for the principal newspaper of France and the United States. He traveled the world and stopped again in Brazil, going to Petrópolis, where he would write his third book, " What I saw and what we will see", in whose pages already appear symptoms of a disturbed mind.

The title "The mechanical man" was published, whose originals he locked in his office, not delivering the work to his publishers. Diplomat Aluísio Napoleão, however, revealed stretches of the work, in which Santos Dumont, in contrast to the previous book, showed full rational capacity when he wrote: "It was, I can say, (said about 1929), a very painful trial for me to watch, after my work on the dirigibles and heavier than air aircraft a few years earlier, the ingratitude of those who covered me with laurels years earlier. I feel embarrassed on having to speak of myself - "I" is odious to me - in order to defend these witnesses and this consecration that sometimes seems to have been forgotten".

"There is in this more a proof of my gratitude, than a claim. This last would be, alas, useless, because history will not be written except with the passage of time and with facts and documents. Some years pass and everything is forgotten".

The millions of dollars spent in publicity, with the objective of destroying the glory of Santos Dumont in favor of the Wright Brothers, did not have the least result. Alberto Santos Dumont, however, will eternally have the primacy of flight. Destiny wanted him to see an aerial combat in Santos, São Paulo, in 1932, among legalist and rebel airplanes, during the Constitutionalist Revolution, with the apparatuses falling into the sea. Commenting to a relative who was with him, he said:"It was not for this that I invented the airplane!"

No longer was Santos Dumont feted by kings and princes. His happiness was to walk along the beach, with a group of children. Santos Dumont lies under an enormous Icarus, in São João Batista Cemetery, in Rio de Janeiro, a copy of the Saint Cloud monument, a long ways from the mausoleum of the Brazilian Academy of Letters. His immortality is in the skies full of aircraft and spaceships. ... "

{On the other hand, a reader adds:}

Hi, Joe!
As you are well aware, Santos Dumont did invent AN airplane. He did not invent THE airplane. Many cobbled together flying machines about the time that the Wright Brothers ENGINEERED, thus invented the first airplane and flew it successfully prior to Dumont and others. The Wright flights after 1903 developed into more and more capable machines. Dumont faded after his first flight a year at least after the Wrights.
Santos Dumont was a citizen of Brazil, but resided in France. He had access to French facilities and materials, likely not available in Brazil then. Other than producing Dumont, Brazil had little to do with it. The talented Dumont accomplished many things and deserves credit for them. However, it seems to me that he used his common sense, but not thorough engineering systematic analysis and study leading flight as did the Wrights. The aviation industry grew due to the efforts of the Wrights and Glen Curtiss as did nothing else. Of course, they were both citizens and residents of the United States.
I check your blog every day for the latest down South. Sometimes Brazzil.com, too. The current attitude of Brazil reflects poorly on Dumont.
Ralph M.


1 comment:

wondering ego said...

This blog is as much a joke as the air traffic system you are trying to denounce. You write all sort of demeaning statements, you criticize all and everything but you don't allow any critics of yourself, even for those of us brazilians that do read and, up to certain measure, give you some credit! You even publish the comments!! I think you really is ill-minded sir.