The first flight over the Channel was not a sedentary affair. It was a race. And there were no rules. Read a book that gives the wider view rather than the known story behind Louis Blériot s first flight over the Channel. Barbara Walsh compiled the details on the life and career of Hubert Latham and many facts around the days leading up to the historic flight in 1909.
When flying was all new and shiny, it was also a pilot's paradise. There were no permits to get and no exams to pass; you just got into your flying machine and took off. But paradise ended when the snake crept in; the snake was called officialdom and took the form of an international body which started to issue permits and organize exams.