I can respect the fact that the United States of America wants to recognize the Wright brothers as the first to have created and flown a heavier than air aircraft. However, to me as well as all Brazilians, there is absolutely no doubt that Alberto Santos-Dumont is and will forever be considered the "Father of Aviation".
The brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright might have come up with the right idea however they were unable to make their plane lift off the ground without help.
Santos Dumont was a pioneer in air crafts. He started by designing and flying his own balloons. The Brésil, his first balloon design, was first flown in 1898. Also, on October 23, 1906 he made the first public flight of his flying machine, the 14 bis, in Europe. It was the first fixed-wing aircraft officially witnessed to take off, fly, and land. And he flew it before a large crowd of witnesses a distance of 60 meters (200 ft) at a height of two to three meters (10 ft).
Now, the Wright brothers claimed that they had flown before, however with no evidence. If they could fly, why would they keep it hidden? Wouldn't want such huge accomplishment to be exposed t the world? Plus their aircraft always needed some sort of help to lift off the ground, like a catapult or at an incline while Santos Dumont's aircraft already had the wheels and didn't need any push to take off.
The Wright brothers' flight did not fulfill the conditions that had been set up at the time to distinguish a true flight from a prolonged hop.
Plus it seems to me that the Wright brothers were more concerned about protecting their patent, making a profit out of their invention and getting a contract with the US military.
According to history, Santos Dumont's flight was well-documented event was the first flight verified by the Aero-Club De France of a powered heavier-than-air machine in Europe, and the first public demonstration in the world of an aircraft taking off from an ordinary airstrip with a non-detachable landing gear and under its own power in calm weather, proving to the spectators that a machine "heavier than air" could take off from the ground by its own means. With this accomplishment, he won the Archdeacon Prize founded by the Frenchman Ernest Archdeacon in July 1906, to be awarded to the first aviator to fly more than 25 meters.
On November 12, 1906, Santos-Dumont succeeded in setting the first world record recognized by the Aero-Club De France by flying 220 meters in less than 22 seconds.
Santos-Dumont's aviation feats made him a celebrity in Europe and throughout the world. He won several more prizes and became a friend to millionaires, aviation pioneers, and royalty. In 1903 Aida D'Acosta Breckinridge piloted Santos Dumont's airship. In 1904, he went to the United States and was invited to the White House to meet U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt.
I would love for the myth busters to design each of the planes and test and see which one can fly without any aids. I know that this has been done before and every time the 14 bis flew with no problems while the Wright Flyer I couldn't. That alone should say something.