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On this day, one hundred years ago Louis Bleriot made the first crossing of the English Channel in an airplane, thus starting the feat of modern aviation. His airplane is practically identical with any modern light aircraft in terms of structural elements and engine.

Romania at that time was an unlikely aviation pioneer. People like Traian Vuia or Aurel Vlaicu were seminal inventors and creators of remarkable early airplanes. That was spurred by the country’s economic flourishing (as one of the important grain exporters of Europe), the circulation of ideas in the then globalised world of late Victorian period and also very importantly the royal patronage of KING CAROL I, a very technologically minded monarch, expert in modern machinery and keen to industrialise Romania.

Louis Bleriot airplane, Bucharest October 1909

It is thus not a coincidence that Louis Bleriot was invited in Romania for demonstration flights viewed also by the king and the royal court. I found an interesting photograph from that event in Bucharest, Baneasa hippodrome, on 18 October 1909, where the very airplane which crossed the Channel is shown during a repair session after a mechanical break down. ©Valentin & Diana Mandache

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