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Thursday 25 July 2019

Anniversary of An Historic Flight In 1909

    Today French Aeronautique Internataionale celebrates the 110th Anniversary of Louis Blériot’s Historic Channel Crossing
Exactly 110 years ago today, just after sunrise on 25 July 1909, the French aviator Louis Blériot took off on what was to become the first ever flight in an airplane across the Channel.
   This historic achievement allowed him to claim a £1,000 prize offered by the Daily Mail newspaper, which was an incentive that prompted him to attempt the journey and beat rival French aviator Hubert Latham. Flying at approximately 72km per hour and at an altitude of 76m above sea level, Bleriot piloted his 25-horsepower monoplane from near Calais in France to the English coast, arriving in Dover some 36 minutes later. He had no compass or other instruments to chart his course. He made a “pancake” landing close to Dover Castle after being slightly blown off course by the wind due to the gusty conditions. Bleriot was unhurt, and was quickly taken to Dover harbour where his wife and the world’s press were waiting to greet him. In the field behind Dover Castle, where he landed, is a memorial to the French aviator.

Louis Bleriot XI As Depicted In The Village Story Book
    The casual observer could be forgiven for thinking that the drawing of the monoplane seen in The Village Story Book is simply that. It is in fact a drawing of a French built Bleriot XI – 1909, dimensions of which are:
Wingspan 28ft 6in  {8.52m}    
Length   25ft 6in  {7.63m
Height  8ft   10in {2.7m}
Weight  720lb        {326kg}
Engine       25 horsepower - three cylinder – Anzani engine/upgraded to a 6-cylinder Anzani engine.
    A light and sleek monoplane constructed of oak and poplar, the flying surfaces were covered with cloth. The Bleriot Type XI was the most famous and successful of several classic aeroplanes that emerged during the summer of 1909, when all Europe seemed to be taking to the skies. Luis Bleriot, a French engineer and manufacturer of motor car head lamps and other accessories, first became interested in aeronautics in 1901, and then went onto achieve immortality in the Type XI on July 25th 1909, when he made the first aeroplane crossing of the English Channel, covering 40 kilometres between Calais and Dover in a time of 36 minutes – 30 seconds, at a speed of some 40 miles per hour and at a height of 250. Bleriot captured the London Daily Mail prize of £1,000 which had been put up by the newspaper the year before for any successful cross-Channel aeroplane flight.
    It is interesting to note that it is possible that Louis Bleriot’s crossing of the English Channel from Calais to Dover, taking The Daily Mail prize, was inspiration behind the 1965 film ‘Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines’ or ‘Or how I flew from London to Paris in 25 hours 11 minutes.’ In the film a Lord Rawnsley, owner of the ‘Daily Post,’ puts up prize money of £10,000 to the winner of the Daily Post air race from London to Paris. A replica of the plane does feature in the film.
    If this way of looking at ‘the Prisoner’ appeals to you, you will find this, and much, much more Prisoner related material in my book ‘The Prisoner Dusted Down.’

Be seeing you

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