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Author Topic: WaT Zoo Exhibit #4 - Edmond Salis: Crossed the Channel in a Bleriót XI  (Read 1221 times)
Rattler
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« on: 26 July 2009, 10:12:17 »
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Would you fly across the English Channel on a plane made of ash and canvas, with bicycle tires and an engine about as powerful as the average lawnmower?

That's what French aviator Louis Bleriót did on July 25th, 1909, winning a £1,000 prize, courtesy of the Daily Mail. It was the first time anyone flew a plane across a large body of water, and it took him 38 minutes from taking off in Calais (France) until he crash landed near Dover (England).



Now, 100 years later, on JUL 25th, 2009, French pilot Edmond Salis recreated this historic flight:

Mounted in an original Bleriót XI from 1924, Mr. Salis crossed the English Channel in around 40 minutes, needing just 2 minutes more than his historci predecessor.

As part of the 100 year festivities in Dover conmemorating the original flight Mr. Salis left Bleriót Beach near Calis in the morning and landed on a grass airstrip just before 0900 GMT at the Duke of York's Royal Military School, close to where Mr Bleriot crash-landed after his 38-minute flight.



On the eveing of the day before, another attempt to re-enact the flightby a Swedish pilot by the name of Carlsson had apruptly been canceled: French authorities decided that the winds were too strong. Two other pilots wo also wanted to fly restored Blerióts over the channel, A Dutchman and a pilot from Luxembourg were also not authoized to go.

On JUL 25th, when Edmond Salis took off from Calais at dawn the weather was not much better:

"The takeoff was a bit delicate because there were crosswinds at Bleriot Beach," said Salis, decked out in a leather aviator jacket and hat and a flowing white scarf, in an interview on I-Tele television. "Once I was in the air, I could already see the English coast. Listen, the closer the English coast came, the more I enjoyed it."

Before the flight, Salis dismissed any fears about flying the wooden and canvas craft: "It's still an adventure. It is an old engine, it is an old motor, but it is well maintained, it works well, so there is no reason that any problem would happen. 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".

About 500 people — some in period costumes — were on hand in Calais to see Salis off, and five journalist-filled helicopters tracked his progress.

Mr Bleriot's grandson, who is also called Louis, watched the aeroplane land near Dover Castle. He said: "Today is a great day the anniversary of my grandfather's cross-channel flight of course -so for me, it's something that I've been waiting for for ages of course. Not only to France, but for the world, his cross-channel flight was really the beginning of modern aviation."

A vid from the recreated channel crossing:

Pilot recreates historic Channel flight

A vid of the take-off can be found here: http://vinnyswebsite.com/blog1/video-edmond-salis-recreating-1st-english-channel-flight

Rattler
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