Replica of early aircraft, ‘Fly-in’ open ‘Wings’ fall

By Richard Yager….

This meticulously fabricated replica of the 1908 Brazilian Demoiselle, shown in flight, is on display at Wings over Miami.

The arrival of the replica of a historic aircraft and an October “Fly-in” weekend are ushering in the fall season for aviation enthusiasts at Wings over Miami, the museum of aviation history located at Kendall-Tamiami Executive Airport.

A meticulously fabricated replica of the Brazilian Demoiselle that pioneered flight over Europe in 1906 will be featured during a public celebration over the pre-Halloween weekend, Oct. 29-30.

The Demoiselle aircraft, now on view at the museum, is one of several authentic period aircraft replicas commissioned by Instituto Arruda Botelho, a non-profit based in Brazil and pride of Brazilian industrialist Fernando de Arruda Botelho.

While the Wright brothers invented the airplane in Dayton, OH and made the world’s first successful powered flights in North Carolina in 1903, Santos-Dumont, known as Brazil’s “Father of Aviation,” made the first public exhibition flight in France on Oct. 23, 1906 with the Demoiselle.

Santos-Dumont, who died in 1932, was a Brazilian pioneer of aviation and heir to a prosperous coffee producer family. Dedicating himself to science studies in Paris, France, he spent most of his adult life pioneering aircraft designs.

Santos-Dumont made the first European public flight of an airplane in 1906 in the Demoiselle, designated “Oiseau de proie” (French for “bird of prey”). The flying machine was the first fixed-wing aircraft witnessed by the European press and French aviation authorities to take off and successfully fly.

“We’re honored to be invited to house this flying gem,” said Suzette Rice, museum public affairs coordinator. “The Demoiselle will travel to various air shows throughout the U.S. and return to Miami following those trips.”

Fernando Arruda Botelho, Brazilian industrialist and aviation history enthusiast became a “Life Member” of Wings through a board member’s mutual Brazilian friend who happened to like the museum, Rice explained.

“Fernando visited on vacation, loved the museum’s charm and has been a regular visitor ever since. This little plane will be featured in our October Fly-In and be the subject of a presentation and, perhaps, even a flight by Mr. Arruda Botelho,” Rice said.

The Oct. 29-30 “Warbird and Classic Aircraft Fly-in” is another in a series of opportunities for a special event from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on both days.

Special events, entertainment and prizes for youngsters, dressed in early aviation costuming, are on tap for the pre-Halloween event.

The Fly-In that coincides with Miami’s 100-year celebration of aviation provides an opportunity for residents to see vintage aircraft flying overhead or parked outside the museum hangar with pilot-owners answering questions.

Event vendors are encouraged to contact Wings to reserve space for the weekend. Volunteers also are welcome to assist in the event with community hours open for assignment to students, Rice noted.

In celebration of Miami’s 100 years of aviation, HistoryMiami recently invited Wings to loan its Brown Racer aircraft, disassembled in the hangar and reassembled inside HistoryMiami’s downtown building. The Brown Racer was proud winner of a 1934 Miami “All American Race,” then held at Miami Municipal Airport.

Wings showcases Miami and Florida aviation history with family memberships at $40 providing unlimited museum visits for two adults and two children and entry to all public events. Individual memberships are $30; students, seniors and military, $15. New membership applications or renewals are available with PayPal links to allow credit card or existing PayPal account use.

Wings over Miami is open Wednesday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, noon-5 p.m. It can be accessed by turning off SW 137th Avenue at the Kendall-Tamiami Executive Airport entrance.

For more information, visit online at or call 305-233-5197.

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