On the 25th of July 1909, Louis Blériot, a French engineer, businessman and amateur pilot, successfully crossed the Channel between France and the United Kingdom. It was a world first. The fact Blériot managed to cross the Channel was a small miracle in itself: He only started designing gliders and planes in 1905 and finally managed to make a plane that could fly in 1907! Between 1905 and 1909, Blériot’s experiments suffered 32 failures, with prototypes unable to take off, or crashing either while taxiing or slamming back to earth after a small hop in the air.
On the 25th of July 1909, Louis Blériot, onboard his “Blériot XI” airplane, finally managed to cross the Channels but not before first getting lost: He had no means of navigation and had to follow a ferry towards England. However he soon overtook said ship and was slightly blown off-course by the wind. By the time he spotted Dover, the cliffs were not ahead of him but on his left hand side! Still, he managed to turn around and land his planes in England, completing the first ever crossing in 36 minutes minutes. Louis Blériot was a pioneer: He’s the first plane designer to have experimented with stick and pedal controls. He created the first powered monoplane and tinkered for a while with a platform equipped with canards configuration. His crossing of the English Channel came only 6 years after the Wrights brothers’ first flight… And 4 years before the first World War! the age of aviation was dawning!