TV show coming to town to debunk some ‘first in flight’ myths


TV show coming to town to debunk some ‘first in flight’ myths

Step off Alberto Santos-Dumont, you are about to be debunked in D-town for the good of your nation. 

Leandro Narloch, a myth-busting Brazilian journalist and author,  will be in town Thursday to research and film his upcoming 8-part series for the History Channel in Brazil. 

Narloch devoted a chapter of his 2009 bestselling book, "The Politically Incorrect Guide To The History Of Brazil," to debunking the claim that it was Santos-Dumont and not Dayton’s Wright Brothers to first achieve powered flight. 

Timothy R. Gaffney, a Dayton-based aviation expert and the communications director for the National Aviation Heritage Alliance, said Narloch will visit sites related to the Wright Brothers, including  the restored 1905 Wright Flyer III at Dayton History’s Carillon Historical Park, the Wright State University Libraries’ Special Collections and Archives and Wright B Flyer Inc. 


Opening Ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Maracana Stadium on Aug. 5, 2016, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, honored Alberto Santos-Dumont, who they said made the first powered flight and not the Wright Brothers. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Gaffney said many doubted the Dayton Wright Brothers’ 1903 claim to first flight because they had not done so publicly.

The Wright Brothers’ historic first flight was in Kitty Hawk, N.C. in 1903, but Santos-Dumont captured headlines and the hearts of his country in 1906.

The reason: his flight was witnessed by the public. 

The world’s admiration rightly shifted to Orville and Wilbur Wright when they started making public flights, Gaffney said.

It was clear that the Wrights had mastered flight.  

Wilbur Wright made one of his first public flights at the Hunaudières racetrack in Le Mans, France in August of 1908.

“It just stunned Europe,” Gaffney said. “He was doing flying no one else had seen.”

Orville Wright made his historic flights for Army observers in Fort Myer, Virginia that September. 


The image shows an overhead view of the Court of Honor located on North Main Street in Dayton, Ohio during the 1909 Wright Brothers Homecoming Celebration. Crowds are walking between the sculptures and columns that line the edge of the street, as the end of the parade approaches the Soldier's Monument. The image shows Main Street looking north from Third Street toward the Soldier's Monument. In the foreground, a polar bear can be seen, as part of the advertisement, above the Ahlers Fur Store located at the Teutonia Bank Building at the northeast corner of Market Street and Main Street. The building on the left side of the image is the Phillips House Co. at the Southwest Corner of Third Street and Main. There is a sign near the corner of this building for Geo. F. Merry Optician at 5 South Main. The Montgomery County Courthouse is located at the top and center of the image and the First Baptist Church is near the upper right corner. Another sign can be seen near the Montgomery County Courthouse for the Chas. E. Underwood Confectioner Company at 29 and 31 North Main Street. The large building, in the upper right corner, is the Harbour Apartments located at 245 North Main Street. Courtesy Special Collections & Archives, Wright State University Courtesy Special Collections & A

The world praised the Wrights, but Brazil never accepted the memo. 

“When you are in Brazil it is Santos-Dumont,” Gaffney said. “In Brazil, they continue to claim Alberto Santos-Dumont as a national hero.”

Many Brazilians have never heard of the Wrights.

The country caused a stir during the 2016 Olympics in Rio when its opening ceremonies featured a tribute to Santos-Dumont. 

Gaffney said that it is all shameful because Santos-Dumont’s work was praiseworthy. 

“He deserves a place in history for what he did do, but he was not the first to fly.”

Brazil is not the only place trying to steal the Wrights thunder. 

The Dayton Evening Herald painted a vivid picture of the Wright brothers first flight. Though descriptive, the story was filled with inaccuracies.
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