Hundreds Fly The Channel To Honor Bleriot

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A short video of the July 25 takeoff, posted by the Associated Press to YouTube. Note that the XI has no ailerons; it was controlled using wing warping.
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It was 100 years ago, in 1909, that Louis Bleriot piloted the first airplane to cross the English Channel, and early in the morning of July 25, 2009, two French pilots marked the anniversary by completing the same flight in two Bleriot XI monoplanes, one of them a replica and one a restored original. Later in the day, however, several other pilots, from Sweden, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg, who hoped to make the same flight in their own Bleriot aircraft, were grounded by French authorities, who said the wind was too strong. The grounding caused some to complain that the French had favored their own pilots, but others agreed that the winds were dangerous for the fragile aircraft. At least one of the grounded pilots, Mikael Carlson, of Sweden, was able to make the flight successfully the following morning. About 300 French, British and Belgian pilots also made the flight throughout the day in a variety of small aircraft, sometimes despite dark clouds and rain. Bleriot's flight from Les Barraques, France, to Dover, England, took just 37 minutes.

He won a prize of a thousand pounds, offered by the Daily Mail, and became an instant celebrity. The event startled British military leaders, who had to cope with the fact that they now were vulnerable to attack from the air, as well as by sea. Bleriot went into business building airplanes, and many copies of the XI were built, several of which are still flying or in museums.