sexta-feira, 4 de novembro de 2016

The balloons ‘Brasil’ and ‘L'Amerique’

First flight of Santos=Dumont with balloon manufacturers Lachambre & Machuron
Soon after his first balloon flight, Santos=Dumont tried to convince the manufacturers of balloon, brothers Machuron and Lachambre, to construct a small individual balloon. It was indeed the first steps to realize his dream of performing individual flight, like the mythological Icarus.

leia este artigo em Português 

"... They’ve tried to prove me that in order to be stable a balloon, needs weight. A 100 cubic meters balloon should be more responsive to movements of an aeronaut inside of the nacelle than a large balloon of currents dimensions.

In order to prevent that my movements inside the nacelle may alter the center of balance of the balloon, I’ve ordered longer strings; the result was a huge success regarding to the balance and weight distribution.

When I took Mr. Lachambre my light Japanese silk, he looked at me and said, "It will be very weak." We tested it in dynamometer and the result was surprising. While China silk supports a 700 kilograms per linear meter tension, thin Japanese silk endured tension of 1,000 kg; I mean that proved to be 30 times more resistant than necessary because of the theory of tensions. The result is extraordinary considering that it weighs only 30 grams per square meter!

A fact that shows how competent people can be deceived when attached to summary judgments is to say that all the balloons of my aircraft are manufactured with the same silk.

In the meantime, the internal pressure that it must withstand is large, whereas all the spherical balloons are fitted at the bottom of a hole permitting it relief.

Santos=Dumont 1st Balloon - 'Brasil' 

Once ready, the "Brazil" showed 113 cubic meters of capacity, which is approximately 113 square meters of silk surface. The entire involucre weighed only 3 and half kilos. Varnish layers made up that weight 14 kg.

The net (filet du ballon), which often weighs 50 kilos, was not going to only 1,800 grams. The nacelle, which ordinary minimum is 30 kilos, is now just 6kg.  My No. 9 had a nacelle that did not reach the 5 kilos. My "guide-rope", thin but very long because average 100 meters, weighed 8 kilos, if at all; its length gave the "Brazil" a good elasticity. I’ve replaced the anchor by a 3 kilos iron harpoon.

Still, with reference to lightness in every detail, I thought the balloon, despite its small dimensions, would have enough strength to get up with my 50 kilos of weight and 30 more ballast, I got to test a tied bike to the ropes with the intention of returning to distant places to the comforts of home, but unfortunately came very close to the total balloon tare and became infeasible, only returned to do it in my second balloon the L’Amerique. And these weight conditions that made my first air travel.

Balloon Brazil with filet du ballon (net used around the enclosure) inside - extremely light

On another occasion, in the presence of a curious French minister to see the smallest of spherical balloons, I almost never took ballast, 4 or 5 kilos only, and nevertheless I had a good rise.

The "Brazil" was very manageable in the air and very docile. It was, moreover, easy to pack after the descent: It wasn't a rumor spreaded that I even carried it inside a briefcase.

Before my first ascent in little "Brazil" I performed twenty-five or thirty other rises in standard spherical balloons, all alone, simultaneously captain and passenger in one person. Mr. Lachambre, who commissioned several public ascents, allowed me to do some instead. That's how I came up in several cities of France and Belgium. This attitude avoided work and uncomfortable to Mr. Lachambre, whom I reimbursed for all expenses, gave me pleasure and allowed me to practice this so-called "sport". This gentlemen's agreement pleased both of us.

I doubt that without a series of studies and preliminary experiments on spherical balloon, a man get any chance of being successful with an elongated dirigible, whose management is much more delicate. Before attempting to drive an aircraft is essential to be on board of an ordinary balloon, learned the conditions of atmospheric environment, made knowledge with the wind whims, penetrated in depth the difficulties that presents the ballast problem under the triple aspect of departure air balance and landing.

original balloon 'Brasil'

Having maneuvered personally a spherical balloon is, in my opinion, indispensable preliminary to acquire exact notion of what entails the construction and direction of an elongated balloon, equipped with engine and propeller.
One of the balloon Brazil ascents - great friend of Dumont's  the mathematician Emmanuel Aimé took his daughter to the event

Notice that I manifest great surprise when I see inventors who never set foot in a nacelle, draw on paper and to execute, in whole or in part, those fantastic aircrafts with balloons cubing thousands of meters, laden with huge engines, completely unable to rise from the ground and provided with such complicated machines that will never work. The inventors of this class never expressed fear because they have absolutely no idea of the difficulties involving of this particular problem.

If they had started to travel in the air blowing in the wind, facing hostile influences of atmospheric phenomena, they would understand that a dirigible balloon, to be practical, requires first of all an extremely simple mechanism. Some unfortunate builders, who paid with their lives their sad recklessness, had never made an increase in spherical balloon as captain and under his own responsibility. Most of the emulators today, so devoted to their tasks, is still under the same conditions of inexperience. This explains to me their failures. They are in the same situation that, without having ever left the land or set foot in a boat, intended to build and operate a transatlantic ship."

And then, Santos=Dumont reports the first flight of the small Balloon Brazil

People present at the inaugural flight of the balloon Brazil on July 4 1898 - Marcelle Grandcey French socialite, the painter Leopold Flammeng, Louis Krieger engineer, responsible for introducing the electric motor drive to Santos=Dumont, Emmanuel aimé among other friends
"... I did not have to wait long to have a beautiful day with gentle winds, it was a Saturday morning of July 4th , 1898, my sister Virginia had come all the way from Porto city in Portugal only to witness my achievement, the balloon was already connected to the nacelle, the audience was waiting with anxiety and everything was ready, but I could not leave. I had invited Hélène de Raoul to be the maid of honor of this first flight and she was extremely late. When my impatience seemed already evident from my nervousness I see at the distance the beautiful lady accompanied by her chauffeur.
Hélène de Raoul maid of honor of the inaugural flight of the balloon Brazil

At that moment my grief had turned immediately in great joy. Hélène justified her delay to the fact that her husband, an officer in the French army, be at the front that morning. The christening ceremony took place as planned; Hélène insisted that the balloon was baptized with her favorite champagne, Dom Perrignon. Then without further ado I took a cup and then went up into the air".

Helene was indeed very important to Dumont, and apparently, she also had great affection for him, because she ignored the jealous husband's concerns to the aviator, went to the jardin d'Acclimatation in Paris, only to take with S=D a glass of Champagne under the maiden voyage of the balloon Brazil.


Dumont got tired to fly alone, and decides to make a slightly larger balloon with 9.8 meters of diameters and cubing 500 m3. He had two basic purposes with that, take passengers on board, and most importantly, thought to increase the strength ascensoral to the point of bringing a light engine and propellers, to make the first experiences with maneuverability.

Balão Esférico L'Ameirque

L'Amerique made several ascents, on June 12, 1898 was in 4th place in a test drive of 325km and the first in another proof of staying longer in the air, doing extensive 22-hour flight.