The first man to fly a powered aircraft in Europe

In November 1907 the world's first successful light aircraft completed its maiden flight in Bagatelle, France. With its bamboo construction and 18-20 horsepower engine mounted between the upswept wings, the tiny 235-pound aircraft bore a startling resemblance to an insect.  Thus, it was nicknamed Demoiselle (Dragonfly).  At the controls was the plane's designer, the daring Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont.

Santos-Dumont, who had taken up residence in Paris in 1898, was famous as a pioneering balloonist and airship pilot. He became interested in powered aircraft in 1904 when he visited the United States to see the St. Louis Exposition.  He met Octave Chanute, an American engineer who had designed several successful gliders, and he learned about the Wright brothers' powered flights. This encouraged him to conduct his own experiments with powered aircraft and he started work on a biplane he called the 14-bis. Although difficult to control, this aircraft completed the first Officially recorded powered flights in Europe.
To read the complete story of Santos-Dumont and his aircraft go to the following site:

It should be noted that although the Wright Brothers were the first to accomplish powered flight, 
Alberto Santos-Dumont was the first man to take an aircraft off unassisted.
This flight took place using the 14 Bis aircraft on 23th of October 1906 in Bagatelle field France.
The he 14 Bis as a revolutionary aircraft being the first of "canard" concept in history.
It as the beginning of the airplane as we know it today.


These pictures of a working model of the Demoisele were submitted by
Capt. Ivan Carvalho
VARIG Brazilian Airline

Actual pictures of his aircraft

Reture to the Early Aircraft page

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