Glenn Curtiss. He designed the very finest
aircraft of his time and with them tested various methods of lift and control. Some of his
designs were successful, and as with all
inventors, some were not, but all his designs’
lines displayed a certain degree of elegance
that forever marked them as products of his
He made his fortune building acetylene
headlamps for the automobiles of the time
before spending it building aerial machines.
Like other aviators of his day, Blériot was a
self-trained pilot and flew his own designs.
On July 25, 1909, the now nearly bank-
rupt Louis Blériot slept in Les Barraques,
France, near his latest creation, the Blériot
XI. He was here to attempt the first cross-
ing of La Manche (the English Channel).
The London Daily Mail had proffered a
£ 1,000 prize for the first aviator to do so,
but the stormy channel was 22 miles across,
and his machine had never flown longer
than 20 minutes in any one flight. The
weather had been foul for days with wind
and rain. The raw conditions made it too
perilous to attempt a trans-channel flight,
or any flight at all.
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