More than two years before the Wright brothers made the first controlled, powered, and sustained heavier-than-air flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, in 1903, Brazilian Alberto Santos-Dumont and his experimental dirigibles were celebrities above the boulevards of Paris. Today, Dumont's many contributions to powered flight are widely forgotten outside his native Brazil, where he is remembered as the father of aviation.Dumont's story is not unique. Aviation developed so quickly in Latin America that by the 1930s air travel was more common there than in the United States. The contributions of Latin American pilots and engineers have been astounding and numerous, ranging from military aircraft to hot-air balloons. Now, for the first time, the rich and diverse history of flight in Latin America is presented in one highly readable, well-illustrated volume.Coinciding with the opening of a new permanent exhibit, America by Air, at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum, ""Conquistadors of the Sky"" celebrates the aviation achievements of twenty-one Latin American nations over the last 100 years - making this chronicle of heroic ventures and epic flights the best reference available on the subject. This is a primer on Latin Americans' contributions to aviation history.
Dan Hagedorn, senior curator with The Museum of Flight at Boeing Field in Seattle and former adjunct curator for Latin American Aviation for the National Air and Space Museum at the Smithsonian Institution, is the author of fourteen previous books including Air Arsenal North America.