The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Santos-Dumont, Alberto
SANTOS-DUMONT, dö-môṅ, Alberto, Brazilian aeronaut: b. São Paulo, Brazil, 20 July 1873. He was educated chiefly in France, and has resided in Paris since the death of his father, a coffee planter. Having experimented in aeronautics he made an ascent on 4 July 1898 from the Jardin d'Acclimation, Paris, in a spherical balloon 18 feet in diameter. At this time he was engaged upon the construction of a dirigible balloon which he completed so as to make the trial ascent on 20 September. It proved itself dirigible, but the experiment ended in disaster owing to the insufficiency of the air-pump. A second and a third machine were constructed, the latter being cigar-shaped, 66 feet long and 11½ feet in greatest diameter. It carried a four and one-half horse-power petroleum motor to work a five-foot propeller making 2,500 revolutions a minute. It was steered by a rudder of silk and bamboo having an area of about 25 feet. This machine ascended from Vaugirard, 13 Oct. 1899, sailed to the Champs de Mars, encircled the Eiffel Tower several times, proceeded to Auteuil and finally landed at the manœuvre grounds at Bagatelle. He continued experiments with new balloons, and on 18 Aug. 1901 his balloon collapsed and fell to the roof of the Trocadero Hotel. On 19 Oct. 1901 he won the Henri Deutsche prize of $50,000 offered for a trip from the Aero Club at Saint Cloud around the Eiffel Tower and back to the point of departure in less than an hour. The actual time employed was 29 minutes and 30 seconds, the return being made against a strong wind. In 1902 he went to Monte Carlo with the design of crossing the Mediterranean and after making several ascents suffered an accident which precipitated himself and his balloon into the Bay of Monaco. In 1904 he was made chevalier of the Legion of Honor and five years later became officer. See Aeronautics, History of — The Dirigible; and consult Mr. Santos-Dumont's ‘My Airships’ (New York 1904).