Alberto Santos-Dumont was a wealthy Brazilian who, following his first ride in a hot air balloon in Paris in 1897, became thrilled with flying. He became an inventor and excellent self-taught engineer and craftsman. Santos-Dumont went on to design several early dirigibles, gliders, and airplanes.
In 1908 Santos-Dumont built and flew his third airplane called the Demoiselle. It weighed and cost less than a motorcycle of the day, and has been described as the world’s first ultra-light airplane. The Demoiselle was a monoplane constructed of canvas and bamboo with three bicycle wheels for landing gear, and powered by 28 horsepower flat twin Darracq engine. The plane could be disassembled, carried in the back seat of a car, and reassembled when the owner wished to fly. Nicknamed the “infuriated grasshopper,” the Demoiselle flew well with small pilots, could reach speeds up to 60 miles per hour, and held the world’s altitude record at one time.
The aircraft in the accompanying photos is a flying replica of the Santos-Dumont Demoiselle. The primary difference between the replica and the original is the substitution of metal tubing for the bamboo in the airframe construction. The photos were taken during an antique aircraft fly in hosted by the Wings Over Miami Air Museum located at the Kendall-Tamiami Airport near Miami, Florida.