Alberto Santos-Dumont , Brazilian flying pioneer, c 1900-1910.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
On 19 October 1901 Alberto Santos-Dumont (1873-1932), Brazilian pioneer in airship and aeroplane flights, flew round the Eiffel Tower in his airship, claiming the prize on offer. He visited America, and on his return designed the '14 bis', an aeroplane with box-kite wings and tail, which flew tail first. The first free take-off was on 13 September 1906, followed by short hops. This was the first officially witnesed aeroplane flight in the world. His most succesful aeroplane was the 1909 'Demoiselle', a favourite with sporting pilots.