Ever since Orville Wright made the first powered flight in 1903, interest in aviation increased tremendously in Europe and America. In 1909, the English news paper, the daily mail, offered a prize of 1000 pounds to the first person who flew across the English Channel. On july 19, 1909, a French man bamed Hubert Latham decided to make the crossing in his aeroplane. Latham took off from the French coast and was soon airborne. A wireless message was flashed across to England on the other side of the channel and thousands of people came to watch Latham arrive. But unfortunately for Latham his engine stopped after he had travelled just 11 km and the aeroplane crashed into the sea. The aeroplane floated on the water and Latham lit a cigarette and waited to be rescued soon. He was picked up by a French warship.
             The challenge was now taken up by Louis Bleriot, another Frenchman. Bleriot's aeroplane was powered by a 25-hp (horsepower) Anzani engine. But it had no navigating instruments, not even a compass. But this did not deter Bleriot. So on July 25, 1909 Bleriot took off from Le Boraques near Calais accompanied by a French warship, A destroyer named Escopette. Very soon he left the Destroyer behind. But he ran into Fog. He could not see where he was going. However, he flew on through the Murky fog, hoping he was headed in the right direction. The engine began to overheat but fortunately a shower of rain cooled it down. The fog lifted and Bleriot sighted the white cliffs of Dover. He had reached England! He searched for a place to land. Finally he spotted a green patch and glided down. He made a bumpy landing, Breaking the Propeller in the process. The plane ground to a halt and Bleriot climbed out. A few minutes later some policemen came on the scene. Later a small crowd gathered to gaze at the great aviator and his aeroplane. Bleriot won the prize and his feat was acclaimed in both England and France. It had taken him 40 minutes to fly across the channel, a distance of 34 km.
              Today some of the fastest jet planes can cover nearly 2000 km in the same time.

Louis Bleriot


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