A famous Brazilian inventor by the name of Santos Dumont is credited for creating numerous flying machines in one decade. He designed piloted balloons, dirigibles, gliders, hydroplanes, and aircraft – he is one of the world’s biggest aeronautical pioneers and certainly known as being the most creative. All the while taking major risks when testing his flying machines, that was just how Dumont was: extremely passionate about creating planes. He believed that flight would end world conflicts and that flying machines would bring world peace.
1898 was the first record of a Dumont flying balloon, which was known as the personal balloon because when empty it could be folded down to the size of a small bag. This was a design that fascinated even the most successful balloon engineers at the time. Dumont’s inspiration for the design came when he was very young, he spent hours playing with balloons and launching smaller versions for festivals in Sao Joao.
As balloons were controlled by the winds, Dumont started to add motors to fully control the flight, but this first test nearly cost him his life. The air pump for his balloon died and it started to deflate. Luckily he was able to direct some people passing under to grab the dirigibles ropes to drag him against the wind. This reduced his drop speed and saved his life. Despite the major risk, he would later recall the ordeal jokingly, referring to it as the time he went up in a balloon but came down in a kite.
His airships became bigger and better, the N-9 La Baladeuse became an urban legend of folklore; as he would tie it up every evening in front of his apartment on the Champs-Elysees in Paris. He would use it to fly around Paris during the day and visit friends. His masterpiece happened in 1907, called the Demoiselle. A light aircraft credited with bringing aviation to the world, it could be mass-produced and he made a point of not patenting the model so that the whole world could benefit from aviation.
Dumont died mysteriously in 1932, many speculations around suicide have been made, one of the popular theories is that he could not bear to see his aviation inventions being used in war.