Bleriot No X Channel aircraft on display, Science Museum, London, May 1939.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
During a special exhibition called 'Historical aeroplanes' which was held at the museum during May-July 1939. French aviator Louis Bleriot (1872-1936) made the first cros-Channel heavier-than-air flight in his No XI monoplane on 25 July 1909. Though his small, air-cooled three-cylinder Anzani motor was barely adequate for the task, he bravely presed on, landing in Dover to immense acclaim. Bleriot was one of the pioneers of the standard-control layout still used today and patented his system in 1908.