Louis Bleriot Landing in Dover
25 July 2009 marked the centenary of the first flight across the Channel in a heavier than air flying machine.
The cross-Channel flight was completed by Louis Bleriot in only thirty-seven minutes on 25 July 1909. Bleriot flew an aeroplane of his own design, a Bleriot Type XI monoplane. The tiny aircraft, with a wing span of twenty-five and a half feet, was powered by a three cylinder engine which developed only twenty-five horsepower.
Monsieur Bleriot left Baraques at 4:35 in the morning after a test flight around Calais. The aircraft was not fitted with a compass and Monsieur Bleriot steered his course by watching the shipping in the Channel. He first crossed the coast at St. Margaret's Bay because he had been put off course by the wind, but later made his way up the coast to Dover. At Dover his friend Monsieur Fontaine guided him to the landing ground on Northfall Meadow by waving a large French flag.
The customs officer who arrived to record the landing recorded the aircraft as a yacht and its pilot as its Master as he had no category to cover the event.
For his exploit Monsieur Bleriot won a £1,000 prize offered by the Daily Mail.
The monoplane was damaged in the landing but was later repaired and is now preserved in Paris at the Musee de l'Air. The spot where the aircraft landed is marked by a monument paid for by Alexander Duckham, who witnessed the landing.
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