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France

Bleriot XI takes flight for centenary of Channel crossing

Video by Louis MASSIE

Latest update : 2009-07-25

A restored original of the plane in which Louis Bleriot crossed the Channel 100 years ago on Saturday successfully repeated the French aviator's historic feat in front of several hundred enthusiasts.

AFP - A restored original of the plane in which Louis Bleriot crossed the Channel 100 years ago on Saturday successfully repeated the French aviator's historic feat.
  
A Bleriot XI cloth-and wood monoplane dating from 1934, identical to the one flown by Bleriot on July 25 1909, took off around 9 am (0700 GMT), watched by several hundred enthusiasts.
  
Around 40 minutes later it landed without problems in the English Channel port of Dover.
  
Pilot Edmond Salis, wearing a leather aviator cap and goggles, with a life vest strapped to his back, told reporters before take-off that the flight was "rather exceptional."
  
"Louis Bleriot surely asked himself the same questions as us before taking off, but there was more uncertainty then, since nobody had ever done it before him," said Salis, who has notched up dozens of flying hours in the aircraft.
  
Around 300 French, British and Belgian pilots were due to join in the tribute later Saturday, flying in waves over the Channel on board microlight aircraft, seen as the closest modern equivalent to Bleriot's plane.
  
Bleriot's 37-minute flight between Les Barraques near Calais -- since renamed Bleriot-Plage (Bleriot beach) -- and Dover convinced a sceptical public that aviation had a future.
  
He covered the 43 kilometres at an average speed of 65 kilometres (just over 40 miles) an hour, landing in a field at the foot of Dover castle.
  
The same Bleriot XI has already been flown over the Channel three times to mark various commemorations, including the 50th anniversary of the first flight.

Date created : 2009-07-25

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