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Opening Ceremony Spectacle Resurfaces Debate: Who Was First In Flight?

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

So for those of you who have, like Will, been eagerly anticipating the Olympics, maybe you watched the opening ceremonies on Friday night. Here's what you might have seen - a proud lineup of Brazilian culture, samba and carnival, Gisele and Paulinho da Viola and also a celebration of local aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont, the first human to fly. Wait, what?

That's right. In Brazil, the Wright brothers are nothing special. Brazilians have long challenged the assertion that Orville and Wilbur's 1903 flight was the first of its kind, claiming that the fact that the brothers used a launching rail, essentially a catapult, was cheating. Santos-Dumont, on the other hand, won a competition in France in 1906 where he flew about 200 feet in his winged aircraft. Who knew the first throwdown in the 2016 Olympics would be about the history of flight? Can't wait for the shotput. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.