terça-feira, 27 de março de 2012

Brazil has another "Father of Aviation", the unknown Leopoldo Silva

Small model of blimp aerostat created in century XIX
by brazilian Leopoldo Silva.

By Cesar Carvalho,brazilian journalist

The history, that highlighted the achievements of Brazilian Bartolomeu de Gusmao and Alberto Santos Dumont, the American brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright, and the German Ferdinand von Zeppelin, was stepmother to another Brazilian: Leopoldo Silva, the "Father of Aviation" of Bom Jardim, a small town in Rio de Janeiro State. This is been revealed now, because the invention of the first aerostat blimp started in Bom Jardim, even before Zeppelin dream of flying around the world in his famous balloon.

                With the title "Brazil in aviation - the aerostat blimp April '21 'was the forerunner of the Zeppelin", then the newspaper "O Bom Jardim” (“The Good Garden"), the late journalist and historian Manuel Erthal, said in its issue of July 2 1930, entitled "Brazil in aviation": The aerostat blimp "April 21" was the forerunner of the Zeppelin. " Invented by Brazilian Leopoldo Silva, "April 21" made its first flight in 1889, in Lisbon, Portugal. The inaugural flight of the aerostat LZ-1, built by German Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin, was not until July 2, 1900, on Lake Constance in Germany. Based on his achievements, Leopoldo Silva founded the "Society for Private Air Navigation", being the first Brazilian to try to organize air traffic in Brazil.
But, attacked by an illness, Silva could not finish their experiences, died when he was dedicated to their innovative inventions. According to reports from the old newspaper in 1930, the skeleton of the "April 21" would still be hidden in the barn of a farm, in Paraiba do Sul, another small town in Rio de Janeiro. Other information realized that it would be in Vassouras, also in southern Rio. The invention of the Brazilian Leopoldo Silva would have been certified, even in the eighteenth century, in Brazil and Germany, and been applied to the German imperial government, whose patent and other documents were filed in Brazilian National Museum in 1922. But the documents have been lost before the modest name of Leopoldo Silva became worldwide known, as the famous Count von Zeppelin. The newspaper investigated the possibility of the Brazilian Aero Club be ensured that the spoils of the "April 21" were transported to a museum, since the invention of Leopoldo Silva had obtained the sanction in competent circles. However, due to negligences of the authorities of that time, Leopoldo Silva disappeared, poor, without any honor due to him.
Also the blog of IHG_BJ - The Institute of History and Geography of Bom Jardim (www.ihgbj.blogspot.com) reports data about Leopoldo Silva, under the title "Air Navigation A Fact". Leopoldo Silva was son of Portuguese Manoel Joaquim Correia da Silva, who immigrated to Brazil, where he married Emilia Henriques Correia da Silva (born in Minas Gerais State), becoming residents at  Vassouras, small town in Southern Rio. Leopold was not born in Vassouras, but in Mar de Espanha, in Minas Gerais State - where his father owned a ceramic plant - on April 21, 1849. In Mar de Espanha, he began his studies until get to college, but then started a business career.
Later, while serving the Brazilian Army and under possibility to go to War of Paraguay, being even a teen, his father got his exclusion from the ranks. At that time he moved to Bom Jardim, going live in District of San Jose, where dedicated his activities to trade in stores. He married in 1869 to Mrs. Maria de Castro Chevrand (also known as Dona Mariquinha), Mr. Joachim Luiz Chevrand’s daughter, having 12 children. Then they moved to county seat, which in those days was still a Cantagallo district. In Cantagallo (another Rio’s small town), they settled with home business, then having acquired the Bom Jardim Hotel. In 1889 he planned the dirigible airship "April 21", historical fact recognized at the time, but without the effect given to the Zeppelin. He sold his hotel to take care only of his invention.
Besides the "21 April", Leopoldo also projected his second airship, called "Cruzeiro do Sul” (“Southern Cross””), which undoubtedly later served in Germany as a model for the Zeppelin, however, no mention of its true inventor. Leopoldo could not finish the construction of "Cruzeiro do Sul", due to have worsened their health status. He went to Rio de Janeiro, in order to receive medical treatment, but was to late and he died too very young, only 43 years old.
The blog of IHG-BJ sends a final note, lamenting the fact that the name and work of Leopoldo Silva do not appear in Air Force archives, although this fact be relevant to the world aviation history. IHG-BJ also tells us that in Bom Jardim and Cantagallo, several tests with the Leopoldo’s airship, which was made in pure silk by Dona Mariquinha. There are evidences that the airship flew at 100 meters, but there was no money to complete the project. "The best proof of that flight is a plane in Brazilian Air Force Museum with his name: LEOPOLDO SILVA! And also that the famous Zeppelin airship came after that. Where is this hidden truth?”, asked the blog.

WRITER'S NOTES: The only honors that would have been given to the inventor, beyond he has named an aircraft in Air Force museum, were a street that received his name in Bom Jardim downtown and also his also died son, Mr. Leoncio Correia da Silva, who was honored in Bom Jardim Theater, when happened an aerial show of the Colored Smoke Squadron.
Ancient stories also said that Silva would have done the first experiments in search of creating the first flying vehicle "heavier than air”. According to some older Bom Jardim inhabitants, while working as a baker in his shop, he would have observed the flight of ducks, and impressed as an awkward animal could fly, he decided to create a kind of duck made with bread crumbs, which according to testimony at the time, would have lifted flight, taking the first steps towards the invention of the airplane, event realized by the first time by also Brazilian Santos Dumont, in October, 23, 1906, in France.

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