A granite plane marks the site where a French aviator completed the first airplane flight across the English channel.
On Sunday, July 25, 1909, French aviator Louis Blériot landed his plane at this rather steep hillside after completing a historic channel crossing.
Blériot was the first person to complete an airplane flight across the English Channel, a feat for which he won a prize of £1,000 offered by the Daily Mail. In addition to being a pilot, Blériot was an inventor and engineer. He made the trip in an aircraft of his own design: a Bleriot XI monoplane. The tiny plane was powered by a three-cylinder engine and had a wingspan of just over 25 feet.
Along with several other pilots vying for the prize, Blériot came to Calais in July 1909. After setting up and waiting for a day with the right conditions to fly, Blériot took off early in the morning of July 25. It took him 36 minutes and 30 seconds to make the crossing. Though his plane was damaged in the landing, the pilot was unhurt and a crowd was waiting to celebrate his accomplishment.
Today, a granite outline of the aircraft laid out in the grass, marks Blériot’s landing spot above the cliffs near Dover Castle.
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