Louis Bleriot: First aviator to cross the English Channel in a powered aircraft

Louis Bleriot was a French aviator, inventor and engineer who was famous for his flight across the English Channel. Even before this ground breaking flight, Louis had already made a name through his invention of the first practical headlamps. Louis taught himself the principles of flight and designed orinthopters and gliders which he tested out. Through trial and error, he designed the tail surfaces which have become conventional and his company Recherches Aeronautiques Louis Bleriot is credited as being the inventors of the monoplane.

The Daily mail offered 1,000 pounds to the pilot who would fly his plane across the English Chanel before the end of 1909. On July 25, 1909, Louis completed the journey of 22 miles in 36 minutes and 30 seconds in his 25 horsepowered engine monoplane, the Bleriot XI. With no compass to guide him and a throbbing pain from his toe that he had injured in a test flight, Louis maintained his course until he saw the rocky cliffs (similar to the homepage image) of Dover and landed in Dover Castle. His feat shattered England’s “Island Impregnability”.

Louis Bleriots’ company was instantly transformed into a business that sold the Bleriot XI at 10,000 francs each. Around 800 of these model and variants made their way out of the factory and into flying clubs and for the fledgling air forces of Europe. Even with this success, Louis Bleriot continued to fly and took part in many races where the Bleriot XI set many records.

Luios Bleriot remained relevant in the aviation scene and took over the production of the SPAD flighters of world war one and was present to welcome Charles Lindbergh from his journey across the Atlantic. Luois died of a heart attack in 1936 and was given full military honors and was buried in Versailles at the Cimetiere des Gonards. The Luois Bleriot medal was established to recognize the trailblazers in aviation and it is still awarded today.

To commemorate the centenary of the crossing, a French man named Edmund Sallis crossed the English Chanel in a identical replica of the plane.






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