Title: [Paris Tribute to Alberto Santos Dumont, an aviation's pioneer]
Duration: 8 min., 16 seg.
Sound collection: Radio Paris. Ramírez/del Campo
Summaries: Retrasmisión del homenaje a Alberto Santos Dumont, aviador, inventor e ingeniero creador de los primeros aviones a principios del siglo XX
The birth and development of aviation ran parallel (and was complementary) to other symbols of modernity, such as the automobile, the cinema and the radio itself. France was involved in all this. In fact, airplane (augmentative form of the Latin avis, bird) was the name with which the engineer Clément Ader named one of its prototypes with a steam engine developed at the end of the 19th century under the patronage of the French Army (the military saw the potential of these vehicles very soon).
In fact, it is considered that the first prolonged and verified flight was made in December 1903. The Wrights, two American brothers who own a bicycle workshop, got it thanks to the Flyer I, a biplane built with pine wood, bicycle parts, an explosion engine (based on the incipient automobile industry), and a special fabric that was only made in France, of special resistance. Two years later the International Aeronautical Federation was founded in Paris, in which Spain actively participated. Among these pioneers was Alberto Santos Dumont (1873-1932), engineer, inventor, and Brazilian aviator of France origin, who was the subject of the tribute collected by the Radio Paris microphones. The first pilots were adventurers more than anything else; the first aircraft, little more than motorized comets: flying in them was a mortal danger. Soon the first aeronautical concentrations appeared, with a large influx of public and extensive media coverage. Also the first aviators, closely linked to feminism. And the milestones began. In July 1909, Louis Blériot (manufacturer of headlights for automobiles) crossed the English Channel with a monoplane of own manufacture, by which it obtained an important award and a substantial contract with the French army.
Britain had the best navy, and Germany was dumped in its fleet of expensive airships. Spain, for its part, was a pioneer in using aviation as a combat weapon in the colonial war in Morocco. At the beginning, as an observation platform, but soon for the bombing, like the Italians in Libya. It was the first aerial weapon in the world to machine-gunning from the air, an attack modality that the French called "strafing the Spanish". During World War I, all these techniques tested in the European colonial wars would be developed on a large scale. The aeronautical industry was enriched. The engines of the Hispano-Suiza (Catalan factory that supplied the allies) were the best of the entire war. When the technology allowed the machine guns to shoot through the propeller of the biplane itself, the "dog face" fights were born, and with them the "Aces de la Aviación" (As was the term coined by the French press during the war) whose expertise was measured by the number of demolitions.
After the war (and with Spain still immersed in the Moroccan War), air shows were developed, especially with veteran pilots with integration problems in civil society, although there were very famous women. In parallel, they began to establish regular lines of mail, intra and international, and also between the metropolises and their colonies, in the case of France, which soon establisehd them to control their immense possessions in Africa. In this sense, in the archives of Radio Paris, the interviews with two pioneers of commercial aviation, one French and one Spanish, have been preserved: Didier Daurat (1891-1969) hero of the First World War, tells how were the beginnings of postal mail between France and the colonies, and Juan Munar Martí, first commercial aviation radiotelegraphist. Likewise, given the limited autonomy of the equipment and the lack of sufficient clues, the development of the seaplane, a symbol of the 1920s, was paramount. Spain, in the context of the Primo de Rivera dictatorship, had great development of the aeronautical industry and of the line flights, with great pilots as Ramón Franco (brother of Francisco), who achieved hitherto unthinkable milestone. Travelling by plane as a passengers became possible: at first only for eccentrics, but little by little, as regular line transport.
However, it was during the Spanish Civil War that military aviation reached new heights of development. The aerial weapon of the Republican State was soon overtaken by the superiority of the fascist aviation, especially with the intervention of the Italian Legionary Aviation and the fearsome Legion Condor (composed of airplanes and tanks, precursor of the Lightning War). The rebels perpretated the first systematic bombardment of the civilian population: the mortars of Gernika, Madrid, Alicante, Barcelona,... so they attest. The first airlift was also created. The Republic only had help from the Soviet Union, although there were good pilots, aboard legendary models such as the "Fly" (Polikarpov I-16). All this meant an essay of what became World War II.
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