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Unpublished photographs by Alberto Santos Dumont (1904)

Unpublished photographs by Alberto Santos Dumont (1904)

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Alberto Santos Dumont pilots his airship number 7 during the Deutsch award.

Two large original and unpublished photographs by Alberto Santos Dumont, found in a private archive in Paris last year. The two photographs were pasted onto rigid paper, front and back, by the photographer (unidentified). 29 cm x 23 cm. Paris, Parc des Coteaux de Longchamps, 1904. Good condition. Single piece.

French subtitles

1st : Prix Deutsch - Le Santos Dumont N7 au Parc des Coteaux de Longchamps, le départ, lâchez tout !

1b : Prix Deutsch - Le Santos Dumont N7 au Parc des Coteaux de Longchamps, esseis au départ.

How many tries does it take to become a genius? For all those who believe that the qualities of a prodigy are innate, and that the person who was lucky with them will not need to make more efforts throughout life, Alberto Santos Dumont is proof that the real path of those who marked their name in story is quite different. In fact, genius has another synonym: resilience. The father of aviation, before the famous flight on 14-bis, invented no less than 13 other models of his “flying machines”, many of them with particular stories.

This is the case of his dirigible “Nº 7”, a fast aircraft, which was created to compete for aviation prizes at the Universal Exhibition of 1904, but which never got to fight, due to sabotage. Reports from the time record: “Two days later, when it was unfolded for a first inflation, it was discovered that the canvas had been lacerated along its entire length. The perpetrator of the crime (is it a psychopath?) will never worry about the police.” The mystery was never solved and the sad end of the airship, even before it could take off, makes the large-size photos, and most likely unpublished, of Nº 7 even more valuable.

But who would be capable of such atrocity against a man who sought nothing more than the progress of humanity? Doubt still hangs in the air, and the search for answers incites creativity. At the beginning of the 20th century, Santos Dumont was recognized and admired in Paris, and it is certain that with such admiration came enemies. Was it some other inventor who sabotaged Dumont's airship? Perhaps one of the other competitors at the Universal Exhibition of 1904? It must be borne in mind that such an event was a milestone in the history of world technological development, and the prize in question, finally, was nothing less than marking the name in History.

In the years leading up to the First World War, humanity witnessed a technological leap that impacts our lives to this day. If today our Pantheon is populated by athletes or Hollywood stars, at the beginning of the last century, inventors were the names adored by the mass that avidly consumed the emergence of advances that are now part of our daily lives. From the car to the plane, passing through the means of communication and all kinds of household appliances, let us imagine what life was like without these facilities, and soon we will understand how its creation impacted everyday life and highlighted those responsible for its emergence. In 1904, Santos Dumont was one of those names, recognized in Paris, more than for his genius, for his audacity.

And what does audacity mean if not persistence even in the face of adverse conditions? Santos Dumont was an above average person for his ideas and daring, but, above all, for the courage to persist in the face of each fall, long before even taking the air, a lesson for our current society, accustomed to instant gratifications. And if these never-before-seen photos from Nº7 were your constant reminder of the power of perseverance, what dream would you dare not give up on?

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