The Fabulous Flying Machines of Alberto Santos-Dumont

by Victoria Griffith and Eva Montanari

In 1903 when Brazilian Alberto Santos-Dumont predicted the eventual popularity of... read more

In 1903 when Brazilian Alberto Santos-Dumont predicted the eventual popularity of flying machines, he imagined that they’d bring about the end of war as air travel would make it that much easier to visit other countries and realize how much all humans have in common. Sadly, his optimistic outlook hasn’t been realized, but Alberto did play a vital role in the development of aviation. In November of 1906 in a field outside Paris, he became the first to fly a self-propelled airplane, with a flight of twenty-one seconds. An author’s note discusses Alberto’s title as the “Father of Flight” versus the achievements of the Wright Brothers: Although the Wrights flew an airplane in 1903, their vehicle required the assistance of a rail system and high winds to lift off the ground, whereas Santos-Dumont’s airplane took off under its own power. Santos-Dumont’s ebullient personality shines through in a story that also details the invention of the first men’s wristwatch by his friend, jeweler Louis Cartier. Cartier developed the wearable watch in order to free both of Santos-Dumont’s hands for steering. An impressionistic feel to the art helps capture the place and time of these events, while the tall and narrow book design suggests loftiness. (Ages 4–8)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2012

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