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Modern No. 19 Demoiselle

27 July 2012

Modern No. 19 Demoiselle

I was excited when I learned the Wings Over Miami Air Museum was keeping a modernized version of Alberto Santos-Dumont’s No. 19 Demoiselle — the 1908 design which was ahead of its time. Santos-Dumont was written about in the previous week so let us look more closely at the aircraft I recently photographed. It looks very much like the original but with subtle, though significant, design changes:

  • The airframe made of aluminum tubes, not wood and bamboo
  • The empennage is conventional, no longer a unit attached to a universal joint
  • Ailerons have taken the place of wing warping

This aircraft must be a joy to see in flight like the one in the 1965 film, Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines or How I Flew from London to Paris in 25 hours 11 minutes.

The modernized No. 19 Demoisselle — photo by Joseph May

The pilot must have a remarkable view beneath during flight — photo by Joseph May

Ailerons, not wing warping as in the original design — photo by Joseph May


Suzette Rice of the Wings Over Miami Air Museum (see comment below from her) notified us of Fernando Botelho’s untimely death. He was a great man who accomplished many things — please see the next post which is about him and the accident which took his life.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Wings Over Miami Air Museum permalink
    27 July 2012 23:29

    Hi Joe,
    Thank you for the wonderful shots of the Demoiselle. Unfortunately, the plane is upstate at this time. The owner of it (Fernando Botelho) passed away in an accident in Brazil not long after this year’s Sun n Fun. The Demoiselle was traveling around the state on display and has not come back to our museum.

    • travelforaircraft permalink
      28 July 2012 07:22

      Oh Suzie, that is such sad news. Thanks for the update on the owner — I looked him up and see that he contributed a lot with regard the aviation’s history not only having these Demoiselle aircraft made but also having them flown to various museums and the like.

  2. 19 January 2014 00:34

    A couple of years ago I saw my first Demoiselle airplane, since then I have become involved in constructing a replica made of bamboo the original building material. I have read up on Santos Dumont, the kind of man he was, and have made certain modifications to the design as he would have wanted in my own mind’s eye. The mods included the flight controls to be conventional although in the bamboo style. The wings were modified to use a 5 digit NACA airfoil adding to the efficiency. An epoxy/fiberglass coating was applied to all bamboo parts. Since Santos was pioneering in his quest for invention, I wanted to have the “old” meet the “new”. I have decided on an electric motor, I have consulted with RC flyers and it will be fully remote control. Lastly, there will be glass in the cockpit, that is a small screen and moving map display with primary flight display instruments. I have so far completed the fuselage and empenage. the wings are well under way. The two bamboo spars are fully fiber glassed with extra epoxy for added strength. The wing ribs are cut and due for final sanding and a coat of polyurithene. I am hoping to fly, yes fly the Demoiselle to Oshkosh this year starting in late June. Kind Regards, Steve Borgwardt

    • travelforaircraft permalink
      19 January 2014 08:00

      A wonderful project you are working and kudos for the upgrades. Keeping Santos-Dumont’s name alive is certainly an honorable achievement. Joe

    • Jerry Collier permalink
      7 July 2018 23:10

      I have just come across your project and was wondering if you are following some plans or have you gone of of pictures and drawings. I hope that in the last 4 years that you have done well with the little plain… I too like the idea of flying the little Dragon fly.
      Jerry Collier

  3. 22 May 2014 17:47

    I desire to make, I need information about the aircraft, a number of relevant documents, you help me.

    • travelforaircraft permalink
      22 May 2014 20:02

      We are sorry but would not know where to even begin. Good luck, though.

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