Americans learn about the Wright brothers for their invention of flight. But don’t overlook Alberto Santos-Dumont, who was the first to flight an aircraft heavier than air through its own propulsion in 1906.
The bronze bust of Santos-Dumont on 22nd and DeCatur Place NW remembers the Brazilian hero who experimented first with balloons and dirigibles. His first flight in Paris lasted 197 feet. After four years of intense aviation work, Santos-Dumont reportedly suffered a mental breakdown and retired. He suffered from multiple sclerosis and died in 1932.