The Glorious Flight


The Glorious Flight: Across the Channel with Louis Blériot

by Alice and Martin Provensen

The Viking Press, 1983

38 pp.

Age: 5+

Interests: history, biography, inventors, airplanes, France

Next: science/invention biography – Snowflake Bentley; more about France in this era – The Invention of Hugo Cabret; artistic style – look up works by Henri Rousseau

The true story of Louis Blériot (1872-1936), who, during a family drive in 1901 spotted the first balloon airship to fly over Cambrai. The sight changed his life, as he dedicated himself to building flying machines. After several years of experimentation, he successfully piloted his “Blériot XI” across the English Channel.

This beautifully illustrated book looks like it was painted by famous French painter Rousseau “le Douanier”. The Provensens successfully capture the flavour of the era, with the charming depictions of Louis’ various contraptions and his sizeable, adoring family cheering on his every attempt.

Equally engaging is the optimistic tone throughout trial and mishap. A great example of “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again”.

But “Blériot VI”! It sails across a whole field before it hits a rock. Not so bad!

The actual fog-shrouded flight across the Channel is evocative and unworldly, highlighted by the exciting moment when the awaiting crowd on the shore suddenly comes into view.

A winning book about an inventor working from love, inspiration and artistry. (It reminded me strongly of Snowflake Bentley in that regard.) This may interest readers in other biographies, or histories of science or aircraft.

(This title at


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All writings posted here are © Kim Thompson, unless otherwise indicated. For all artwork on this site, copyright is retained by the artist.
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