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Louis Blériot Is My Hero

By Dan Grunloh, Editor, Light Plane World

If you’ve seen any film documentaries about the early history of aviation, you might recall the figure of Louis Blériot posing briefly on crutches before hobbling over to his plane to become the first man to fly a heavier-than-air craft across the English Channel in 1909. He had burned his foot when a failed fuel line caused a crash during earlier trials, but it didn’t stop him from making history. Louis is my hero, because while he made it those 22 miles to the coast of England, I didn’t make it to the Sun ’n Fun Fly-In at Lakeland, Florida, due to a minor injury which put me on crutches for a time. I should be back in service in about a month. Whenever my foot hurts, I think of that look of determination on the face of Louis. I missed seeing all my friends at Sun ’n Fun who reportedly had a great time. I missed the warm weather, the Spanish moss on the trees, and maybe even the fire ants a little. It’s all part of the experience.

The pioneering spirit of aviation a hundred years ago seems to be returning when viewed in the light of today’s news about marathon flights, record-setting attempts, and the introduction of completely new designs and technologies. Aviation has always been a field of innovation, but now is a great time to be in aviation and a great time to get into flying. Due to the overall slow economy, prices of good used ultralights and light planes have never been lower. Serviceable ultralights and even N-numbered light planes are sometimes sold for little more than the price of the engine. Obtaining appropriate flight instruction is a challenge during this period of regulatory change, but I hope the advice in the article “Finding Ultralight Instruction” this month will be of some help.

It’s been six months since we began this effort called Light Plane World. I didn’t have much idea of what was involved when I consented to take on the position of editor. It certainly has been a learning process for me, and all I can say is that the staff members at EAA publications have helped to make it look easy. The terrific part has been that I get to spend even more time focused on aviation news and communicating with authors, contributors, and innovators in our sport. The credit for our success goes in no small part to the authors of the fascinating and high-quality feature stories you read in our “Around the Patch” section. My greatest thrill is to check my morning mail and come across story submissions like those you read in this and previous issues. Sometimes I’m probably the first person to read those words after the author, and I get a real kick from being able to bring it to you the reader. You can always reach me at LightPlaneWorld@EAA.org. I welcome and enjoy your comments, news reports, and story submissions. Everyone has a story to tell; Light Plane World can help you tell it. Finally, if you’ve never seen the motion pictures of my hero, Louis Blériot, just before the channel crossing, check out the first few frames of the video below. He was later reported to have said, “If I can’t walk, I might as well fly.”

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