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The Pride of Brasil

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So my husband pointed out something the other day… Brazilians believe that they are the inventors of flight.  Yes the first flight was not the Wright brothers, as most of the rest of the world is taught in school, but Alberto Santos-Dumont. This is a pretty heated topic, as you can see from this blog post.

Well I LOVE researching things, and after watching my husband and Frank have a nice conversation on this, I knew I had to know… is it all American “history rewriting” or is it Brasil who is rewriting the past?

I found a very very good post on the difference between Santos and the Wright Brothers.  I should just post the whole article, and if you are interested it really makes a good argument.  But then it points out that the Brazilian mentality doesn’t care about the arguments.

So first off, the history re-writing was done by Brasil:

The rest of the world believes that the Wright Brothers are the first in flight. The Brazilian Vargas dictatorship simply re-wrote some pro-Brazil history because it suited them.  “The D.I.P. was in charge of publishing all schoolbooks, and it set a consistent line of singing the praises of Brazil and all things Brazilian. The Vargas dictatorship ended in 1945, but the D.I.P.-influenced schoolbooks endured. The Wright brothers and other aviation pioneers are rarely mentioned.”

And if you want to say it is just American pride wanting to claim flight first.  Well, no it’s European pride that refused to recognize a few farm boys from American actually figured out how to fly.  They were very willing to accept one of their own wealthy elite. The fact that Cartier personally designed a wrist watch for Santos-Dumand show’s the guy would be considered part of the elite.  Thus why, most of the world (for a bit) thought Santos was the first to fly.  Per this UK site, it notes that once Europe woke up…  they recognized Santos as the first to fly in Europe, but not the first to fly.  You’ll  notice this site, does accurately give credit to Santos-Dumont for making the wrist watch fashionable, and that his designs were instrumental… because they were. He did great things for aviation.

Now, I do have to point out. I’ve never ever heard of good ole Santos-Dumont.  Nor all of the arguments as to why the Wright Brothers were not the first in flight.  However, it seems every Brazilian seems to know all of the reasons as to why the Wright Brothers should be degraded as people and as inventors.  To the fact that Brasilians seem to be educated on why they are the first in flight, and why the other’s don’t “count,” all I have to say is:

“The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” – William Shakespeare (Hamlet)

Yeah that’s right Brazil.  If Santos-Dumont REALLY was the first in flight, then you wouldn’t have to have to come up with all these arguments as to why the Wright Brothers don’t count, are crummy guys because they kept it in secret, and well just aren’t as cool as Santos-Dumont.

Quick recap on some things I have heard

The Wright Brothers DID NOT ALWAYS use a catapult.  A catapult is also used in helping jets take off on short aircraft carrier runways, which is why the Wright Brothers SOMETIMES used a catapult… not all of the time.  Sorry folks.

The Wright Brothers were selfish, secretive jerks! Well as Brazil seems to love Apple, let’s use good ole Steve Jobs as an example.  Think of the Wrights like Apple.  They have this nifty new contraption and they want to make money off of it… because see they’re not rich, they’re trying to make something of themselves and get custom made watches from Cartier.  They’re going around trying to sell their Iphone and well if they just opened the doors and let everyone take a peek, then they wouldn’t be the guys who sold the Iphone. No they would be more like the guys who created Linux. They gave the code to everyone and let everyone take a look see. Linux and Apple are not the same thing, and neither one is wrong.. just different.

But in the end, it’s not about who flew first, from the I think they put it into perspective.  The Wright Brothers are the first to have a CONTROLLED flight… which in the end is what really makes flying possible.

To simply say that the Wright Brothers invented the airplane doesn’t begin to describe their many accomplishments. Nor is it especially accurate. The first fixed-wing aircraft — a kite mounted on a stick — was conceived and flown almost a century before Orville and Wilbur made their first flights. The Wrights were first to design and build a flying craft that could be controlled while in the air. Every successful aircraft  ever built since, beginning with the 1902 Wright glider, has had controls to roll the wings right or left, pitch the nose up or down, and yaw the nose from side to side. These three controls — roll, pitch, and yaw — let a pilot navigate an airplane in all three dimensions, making it possible to fly  from place to place. The entire aerospace business, the largest industry in the world, depends on this simple but brilliant idea. So do spacecraft, submarines, even robots.

If all of the above has completely turned you off, then read this viewpoint that’s a bit more diplomatic about the whole thing:


About scrubgrub

I'm just another soul on the internet, posting random thoughts into the ether, because well I love stumbling on other peoples random thoughts, so I figured why not add mine to the mix too. I'm also the mom to two very funny little boys, and how can you not share that with everyone?

12 responses »

  1. The discussion is not exactly about who flew first, but who had the first successful flight.
    The Wright brothers flew a primitive and rather simple machine only a few feet off the ground and crashed!
    Did they fly first? Maybe, but not only their first alleged flight wasn’t successful but it wasn’t documented by any credible sources.
    The Santos Dumond flight was a 30 minute flight above Paris, circling the Eiffel Tower, and it was widely documented by the media and the scientist community of the time.
    Hence the discussion, the science community didn’t give much value to the Wright brothers flight because they barely took off from the ground for a few feet and crashed, plus, they were in a remote rural area without any credible documentation or reporting.
    By the way, Cartier didn’t design the first wrist watch, Santos Dumond designed it and asked Cartier to make it, so not only Santos Dumond invented the first reliable airplane to do a “real” and successful flight and was well documented, he also invented the wrist watch among many other things.


    • ojeitobrasileiro

      I’m sorry Ray, the wrist watch was invented in the 1800s by a Swiss watch maker. Women wore them, but they weren’t in use by men until Cartier created the first men’s one at the bequeath of Santos-Dumand. He was Brasilian after all, so had a good sense of style 🙂 The first flight of the Wright Brother’s may be what you are referring to.. it was in deed pathetic, but in the three years between when the Wright Brother’s flew first and Santos-Dumand flew in Europe there was many more, much longer (miles), with even more witnesses. Santos-Dumand’s flight for 30 minutes was in the Dirigible not an airplane, so he really did do GREAT things for the modern glider plane, as he understood that well. But that was not the same thing as an airplane.

    • Ray, to support your points, please provide references to the “widely documented” facts you assert above. By attempting to provide support for your points, you will find that you are wrong and are a great example of Brazilian ignorance on the topic (of both the airplane and the wrist watch).

  2. I made a point of finding the tiny tiny note of representation for Alberto Santos-Dumont at the Aerospace Museum in DC. Hilarious! Can’t we all just get along? 😉

    • ojeitobrasileiro

      It is a bit too bad, as he really should be counted higher. He did do some great things for aviation. And unlike the Wright Brothers, didn’t simply (in fact was opposed to it) view it as a war machine. So to that extent, perhaps the better man.

  3. “Yeah that’s right Brazil. If Santos-Dumont REALLY was the first in flight, then you wouldn’t have to have to come up with all these arguments as to why the Wright Brothers don’t count, are crummy guys because they kept it in secret, and well just aren’t as cool as Santos-Dumont.”

    Sorry, I read you blog and like your way to see/say things, but this argument is not good.

    We have to come with all the arguments, because we are going against the holy and might , exceptional and Hollywood supported AMERICAN brothers.

    I recommend you read more, not only a blog, where it is obvious all arguments will defend the Wright brothers.

    And for your information, the Vargas dictatorship only started on 1930, years after the French have considered Santos Dumont the inventor of the airplane.

    And if you want to talk about the pioneers, Santos Dumont designed, built and flew the first practical dirigibles. (from wikipedia in English)

    So the way you sound, like all that Santos Dumont did was born rich, is very, very offensive for any brazilian.


    *Sorry for my broken english.

    • ojeitobrasileiro

      I used the Wright as it had the most information, but cross referenced it across other sites. As you note, I have several from other countries even France, who has also acquiesced to the fact that the Wright Brothers flew first, not Santos Dumand. Perhaps my intent was lost in translation. I was only stating the Vargas dictatorship took a widely held former European belief from the early 1900’s and propagated it again in the 1930’s, even though Europe had since recognized that the Wright Brothers did fly first.

      Santos Dumont’s work with the dirigibles is important work. I don’t mean to say that he was not important. However, what I was attempting to point out is that because he was well off in Europe the general European Scientific community was MUCH MORE apt to believe him, over A. American’s that no one likes to begin with and B. Poor Americans from Ohio. After all, Santos Dumond was obviously very well loved if he got the entire world to begin wearing a men’s wrist watch. Not that he was just a rich guy, again perhaps lost in translation or just my poor writing abilities. Thus why Europe only recognized him as flying first for a few years before seeing the error of their ways.

  4. This article put things into perspective:
    It´s in portuguese, written by Brazilians.

    I have to say this:
    When you write “Brazilian mentality doesn’t care about the arguments”, you don´t look very bright.
    In any country, the majority of people do not care about the arguments. Americans, for example, reelected George Bush.

    • ojeitobrasileiro

      That is an awesome article!!! I enjoyed it very much, and it is very well written and I think points things out exactly right. The Wright brothers were definitely greedy in their minds, whereas Santos Dumont was much more of an idealist. But isn’t that the way with American’s and Brazilians in some ways, we’re capitalists who want it all for ourselves and Brazilians are much more socialist, creating programs and laws for the greater good.

      As for the arguments comment, maybe that’s a broad generalization. But I do feel that Brazilians feel much more with their hearts on what is right or feels right or should be right then what may seem scientifically or logically right… not always a bad thing.. but not always a good thing. But hey I’ve only been here 6 months, and maybe I’ve just met a few passionate folks 🙂

      • Hi!
        I just wanted to point out (sorry, I should have been less passionate about it 🙂 that the arguments comment can be applied to any nationality.
        In the case of Americans, a better example would be that only 39% say they believe in the theory of evolution.
        If new documents were found proving that, say, the Chinese were the inventors of flight, how many Americans would believe it? And how many Brazilians?
        Not many.
        But I agree, Brazilians feel more with their hearts than people from non latin countries, and probably the US would win this one, as it wins in most areas.

  5. Since you love researching, this guy might be of interest to you:

    Father Roberto Landell de Moura (January 21, 1861–June 30, 1928) was a Brazilian Roman Catholic priest and inventor who publicly demonstrated a radio broadcast of the human voice on June 3, 1900.
    He was the first to accomplish the transmission of the human voice by a wireless machine, that is, by irradiating an electromagnetic wave, modulated by an audio signal. He conducted his first public experiment on June 3, 1900, in front of journalists and the General Consul of Great Britain, Mr. C.P. Lupton, in the City of São Paulo, Brazil, reaching a distance of approximately 8 km. The points of transmission and reception were the Alto de Santana and Paulista Avenue in the downtown sector.

    At that time, the only available means of communications were the Wired Telegraph invented by Samuel Morse (1837), the Wired Telephone by Graham Bell (1876) and radiotelegraphy by Marconi (1895).

    The great challenge was to transmit an audio signal without the aid of wires. Several scientists were trying to accomplish this, but Father Landell was the first to succeed.

  6. Pingback: Patents, inventions, and crazy priests… « O Jeito Brasileiro

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