Pilot marks first Channel flight

Other News Materials 25 July 2009 10:56 (UTC +04:00)

A Swedish pilot will attempt to recreate the first flight across the English Channel, on the 100th anniversary of the achievement, reported BBC.

At dawn on 25 July 1909, Frenchman Louis Bleriot created history by piloting his Bleriot XI from Sangatte, France, to Dover in England.

On Saturday afternoon, Mikael Carlson is due to lead three replica Bleriot XIs across the Channel.

The crossing is part of the Dover 2009 celebrations marking the centenary.

But, just as 100 years ago, a Frenchman could get there first, as it is understood that L'aeroclub de France is planning to land a Bleriot XI in Dover at 0630 BST.

The landing site is the Duke of York's Royal Military School, close to where Mr Bleriot crash-landed after his 36-minute flight, in the shadow of Dover Castle.

Mr Carlson, an airline pilot and owner of two replica Bleriot XIs, said: "Louis Bleriot did something very big for aviation by crossing the English Channel.

"He was not the only one (attempting it) but he was the lucky one who made it, so he made history and this started the flying revolution.

"After this people believed in flying, you could cross continents and water so this inspired a lot of people.

"The Wright brothers flew first but Louis Bleriot did the next big thing and this started flying in Europe."

Mr Bleriot earned worldwide fame and a £1,000 cash prize, courtesy of the Daily Mail, for his 1909 achievement.

His lightweight aircraft, with a 25 horsepower rotary engine and made of ash, went into mass production.

The enterprising Gordon Selfridge had the Bleriot XI taken and displayed in his new department store in London.

Mr Carlson added: "It's one of the oldest aircraft in the world today. It's a privilege to be able to fly it and show it to people.

"I'm confident in the aircraft, if the engine runs we will make it.

"But the only thing we know about engines is that if you continue to run them, one day they will stop."