Louis Charles Joseph Blériot (1 July 1872 – 1 August 1936) was a French aviator, inventor, and engineer. He developed the first practical headlamp for cars and established a profitable business manufacturing them, using much of the money he made to finance his attempts to build a successful aircraft. On 19 July, he informed the Daily Mail of his intention to make an attempt to win the thousand-pound prize offered by the paper for a successful crossing of the English Channel in a heavier-than-air aircraft.
The Blériot XI gained lasting fame on 25 July 1909, when Blériot crossed the English Channel from Calais to Dover, winning a £1,000 (equivalent to £115,000 in 2018) prize awarded by the Daily Mail. For several days, high winds had grounded Blériot . On 25 July, when the wind had dropped in the morning and the skies had cleared, Blériot took off at sunrise. Flying without the aid of a compass, he deviated to the east of his intended course, but, nonetheless, spotted the English coast to his left. Battling turbulent wind conditions, Blériot made a heavy “pancake” landing, nearly collapsing the undercarriage and shattering one blade of the propeller, but he was unhurt. The flight had taken 36.5 minutes and had made Blériot a celebrity, instantly resulting in many orders for copies of his aircraft.
After the successful crossing of the English Channel, there was a great demand for Blériot XIs. By the end of September 1909, orders had been received for 103 aircraft. After an accident at an aviation meeting in Istanbul in December 1909, Blériot gave up competition flying