Biography of Experimental Pilot Louis Bleriot Part 2

About the famous French inventor and experimental pilot Louis Bleriot, history and biography of the man who survived over 50 plane crashes.


LOUIS BLERIOT (1872-1936)

By early 1909, Bleriot faced bankruptcy, having exhausted his own fortune and borrowed heavily from friends in order to finance his aeronautic mania. With a wife and six children, he decided he could no longer afford his planes, unless he could make money with them. Therefore, he entered air shows in which he competed in long-distance and speed-flying contests and won small sums of prize money. In July, 1909, Bleriot learned that a London newspaper was offering pond 1,000 to the first person who could fly an airplane across the English Channel. Although handicapped by a leg burned in a recent accident, he set out for the Channel with his Bleriot XI plane, determined to win the much-needed pond 1,000.

Arriving in Calais, France, on July 21, 1909, Bleriot hobbled off the train on crutches and had his airplane unloaded and towed by horses to the village of Les Barraques on the French coast. High winds and fog kept him from taking off immediately, so he checked into the Hotel Terminus in Calais to await a break in the weather. Also waiting for clear skies were two other French fliers, Hubert Latham and Count Charles de Lambert, who were after the same prize as Bleriot. Bothered by his burned leg and afraid that Latham or Lambert would beat him across the Channel, Bleriot slept little the next few days, as he intently checked weather reports and listened to the wind. Then, at 2:30 A.M. on July 25, after lying awake all night, he heard the wind die down. Waking his wife, he insisted that she drive him to his airplane.

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