The first known aircraft in the world to make a flight was named Passarola, 74 years before the famous Montgolfier balloon. Its technical characteristics are not fully known today, but we know that it will have flown in 1709 and that its inventor was the Portuguese priest and scientist Bartolomeu de Gusmão.
The drawing itself leaves doubts that have been made of the original. Following his studies on aero-station, in 1708, Father Gusmão petitions King João V for what he called the “airborne instrument.” With the assent of the king and also granted a financing is, at the Quinta do Duque de Aveiro, in S. Sebastião da Pedreira, (Lisbon), that the scientist dedicates full time to his project.
On August 8, 1709, Bartolomeu de Gusmão brought to the ceiling of the room a balloon, before an illustrious assistance, King, Queen, Apostolic Nuncio, members of the Diplomatic Corps and the entire Portuguese Court. heated with air. Then follows the development of the larger version, already manned and baptized with the name by which became known, “Passarola”.
The huge balloon, possibly carrying its inventor inside, was launched from the Plaza de Armas of Castelo de S. Jorge in Lisbon and flew about 1 km, coming to settle in the Terreiro do Paço. Bartolomeu de Gusmão thus becomes one of the most important pioneers of the aeronautics world being even called “The Flying Father”.