Alberto Santos-Dumont 20 July 1873 – 23 July 1932) was a Brazilian aviation pioneer. Santos Dumont dedicated himself to aeronautical study and experimentation in Paris, France, where he spent most of his adult life. Santos-Dumont designed, built, and flew hot air balloons and early dirigibles, culminating in his winning of the Deutsch de la Meurthe prize on 19 October 1901 on a flight that rounded the Eiffel Tower. Santos-Dumont finally succeeded in flying a heavier-than-air aircraft on 23 October 1906, piloting the 14-bis before a large crowd of witnesses at the grounds of Paris' Château de Bagatelle in the Bois de Boulogne for a distance of 60 metres (197 ft) at a height of about five meters (16 ft).

This was the first flight of a powered heavier-than-air machine in Europe to be verified by the Aéro-Club de France, and won the Deutsch-Archdeacon Prize for the first officially observed flight of more than 25 meters. On 12 November 1906 Santos-Dumont set the first world record recognized by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale, by flying 220 metres (722 ft) in 21.5 seconds. It was only later that the secretive Orville and Wilbur Wright proved they had beaten Santos-Dumont at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, three years earlier on December 17. But to bring up the Wright brothers with a Brazilian is bound to elicit an avalanche of arguments - some more reasonable than others - as to why their compatriot's flight didn't count.

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