April 28th, 1910 – Frenchman Wins British Air Race!

Today-In-History

The 1910 London to Manchester air race took place between two aviators, each of whom attempted to win a heavier-than-air powered flight challenge between London and Manchester first proposed by the Daily Mail newspaper in 1906. The £10,000 prize was won on April 28th, 1910 by Frenchman Louis Paulhan.

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The first to make the attempt was Claude Grahame-White, an Englishman from Hampshire. He took off from London on April 23rd, 1910, and made his first planned stop at Rugby. His biplane subsequently suffered engine problems, forcing him to land again, near Lichfield. High winds made it impossible for Grahame-White to continue his journey, and his aeroplane suffered further damage on the ground when it was blown over.

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Louis Paulhan (July, 19th 1883 – February, 10th 1963)

While Grahame-White’s aeroplane was being repaired in London, late on April 27th, Paulhan took off, heading for Lichfield. A few hours later Grahame-White was made aware of Paulhan’s departure, and immediately set off in pursuit. The next morning, after an unprecedented night-time take-off, he almost caught up with Paulhan, but his aeroplane was overweight and he was forced to concede defeat. Paulhan reached Manchester early on April 28th, winning the challenge. Both aviators celebrated his victory at a special luncheon held at the Savoy Hotel in London.

The event marked the first long-distance aeroplane race in England, the first take-off of a heavier-than-air machine at night, and the first powered flight into Manchester from outside the city. Paulhan repeated the journey in April 1950, the fortieth anniversary of the original flight, this time as a passenger aboard a British jet fighter.

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