Photography: 98for98 The century in photographs: today 1909

Today's photograph of French aviation pioneer Louis Bleriot, continues our 98 for 98 photographs taken from exclusive access to the Hulton Getty Picture Collection. The year is 1909, and Bleriot poses with his wife at Dover Castle after completing the first crossing of the English Channel in 43 minutes. He received pounds 1,000 from the Daily Mail, an award indicative of the importance of Bleriot's achievement (the most expensive plane at the First International exhibition of aircraft in March, cost pounds 1,440). Throughout the year progress in aviation rose skywards: in America, Curtis and Bishop announced that they would manufacture aircrafts commercially, an Aerial League of the British Empire was formed to promote British supremacy in the air, and in August the First International air race meeting was held at Rheims, France.

In February Filippo Marinetti wrote in The Futurist Manifesto: "We intend to glorify the love of danger." Futurism was an art movement founded in the foremost industrialised countries, namely Russia, England and Italy. Its aesthetic relied upon expressing man's experience of modern life through the speed, sound and power of technology. The futurists' enthusiasm illustrates how modernity was embraced without the reservation that World War One's violent reality would bring. Bleriot boasted that he did not use a compass or watch, but found himself lost in clouds and crash-landing. In May, a record-breaking flight made by a Zeppelin airship went pear-shaped when it crashed into a pear tree.

Science and exploration would continue to challenge human limits. In January, London astronomers reported that they may have sighted another planet beyond Neptune, and in Boston, USA, Professor Lovell claimed to have made the discovery that there was oxygen on Mars. Earth wasn't forgotten about: in January a British expedition announced that they had reached a point closer to the South Pole than any other explorers before them.

In April, Commander Robert E Peary of the US Navy conquered the North Pole. Marinetti spoke for these achievements when he said: "There is no more beauty except in struggle."

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