In 1910 there was an air race between an Englishman and a French man. It was all because in 1906 the Daily Mail issued a £10,000 challenge.  However, it took until 1910 before anyone decided to accept the challenge, when two people did, an English man and a French man:

  • Claude Grahame-White, an Englishman
  • Louis Paulhan, a Frenchman

They both left London at different days at the end of April 1910. 

  • Claude left first on April 23rd from London, planning to refuel at Rugby, which he did and then proceeded onwards. Unfortunately, he soon had engine problems which made him land near Litchfield.


This is where his problems began. Isn’t it tough that these things only happen when you are in trouble. While they were repairing the engine, the wind blew the whole plane over!  Planes were exceptionally light in those days. The problem was that there was a further delay as now they had to bring it back to London to be repaired.

  • Then on 27th Louis Paulhan took off for Lichfield.


Once Grahame-White realised that Paulhan had left, he immediately got going again and flew through the night to try to catch him up.  Unfortunately, he was at a disadvantage, his plane was slower!

Paulhan reached Manchester early on 28 April and won the £10,000. Now this is another interesting point, in those days the aviators were a friendly lot, which meant that they celebrated his victory together at a special luncheon at the Savoy Hotel in London.

The race produced a few firsts:

  • first long-distance Aeroplan race in England
  • the first take-off of a heavier-than-air machine at night
  • the first powered flight into Manchester from outside the city

An interesting fact is that in April 1950, forty years later, Louis Paulhan made the same journey aboard a British jet fighter, although he wasn’t the pilot this time!

Isn’t History Fun!