Not very fast, please
On July 25 1909, a Frenchman, Louis Blériot, became the first man to complete an air journey when he flew from Calais, in the north of France, to Dover, in the south of England. Blériot’s flight amazed the whole of Europe. People thought that such a journey was impossible.
The flight wasn’t easy. Mr Blériot, a 37-year-old engineer, couldn’t swim, so he didn’t want to come down in the Channel. He couldn’t walk very well because of an injury to his leg, and he didn’t have a compass.
On the morning of the 25th, he took off at 4.30 from a field at the edge of a cliff. It took 37 minutes to complete the 22-mile journey. The plane flew at 40 miles per hour at an altitude of 250 feet.
Everything went well until he flew into fog. ‘I continued flying for ten minutes, but I couldn’t see the land, only the sky and the sea. It was the most dangerous part of the flight. I wasn’t worried about the machine. It flew beautifully.
Finally, I saw the land,’ he told reporters.
Landing in England
When he got to Dover, he saw a French journalist waving a flag. He cut the engine at 60 feet and crashed into a field. The news quickly went round the world, and Mr Blériot’s flight was celebrated in London and Paris. He won a prize of £1,000.
‘The crossing was the start of modern aviation,’ said Louis Blériot, the grandson of the pioneer.