As well as marking the fortieth anniversary of the first moonwalk, this week also marks the centenary of an earlier, but, for its time, no less ambitious aerospace milestone: the first powered flight over the English channel. The pilot and engineer behind this incredible effort was the impressively moustached Louis Bleriot – who flew 22 miles from Les Barraques near Calais to Dover, won £1000 from the Daily Mail for his efforts, and fought a long-running patent battle with the Wright Brothers over the invention of the aileron which he eventually lost.
Many of today’s most innovative aerospace projects are fond of drawing parallels with the great innovators of the past, but Boeing’s Q2 results, which are out this week, will provide a sobering reminder of the difficult times faced by Bleriot’s heirs in the world of aviation. Forced to postpone the first test flight of the 787 Dreamliner last month, Boeing’s results may shed some light on when we can expect the first flight of its fuel-efficient, composite airliner.
Meanwhile, visitors to the UV Europe conference, running from Wednesday to Thursday in Newport, Wales, may get a glimpse of aviation’s future, as a conference which has tended to focus on defence applications draws attention to the growing use of unmanned air vehicles in civil applications.
Jon Excell, Deputy Editor