Louis Blériot (1 July 1872 – 2 August 1936) was a French aviator, inventor and engineer. In 1909 he completed the first flight across a large body of water in a heavier-than-air craft, when he crossed the English Channel. For this achievement, he received a prize of GB£1000 (5,000 dollars; US 1910). He also is credited as the first person to make a working monoplane. Blériot was a pioneer of the sport of air racing.
Born in the village of Dehéries near Cambrai, Blériot studied engineering at the École Centrale Paris. He invented automobile headlights and established a successful acetylene headlamp business, amassing a small fortune.
He used the money from his business to experiment with towed gliders on the Seine River, learning about aircraft and flight dynamics. His interest in aviation manifested itself when, in 1900, he built an ornithopter, which failed to take off.