Electric plane record up in the air as two teams claim victory

A French pilot today claimed to have made aviation history with the first flight in a manned electric plane across the English Channel from land to land - but the stunt faced controversy following a claim to the record by a rival pilot.

More than 100 years after French aviation pioneer Louis Bleriot became the first person to fly across the Channel in a plane, Didier Esteyne flew in a battery-powered prototype.

Electric plane record up in the air as two teams claim victory

Photo of Didier Esteyne in the Airbus plane - which was beaten to it by the Cricri.

But another French pilot, Hugues Duval, claimed to have upstaged Esteyne by flying his Cri-Cri electric plane across the Channel yesterday.

Controversy broke out, with Esteyne’s Airbus team downplaying Duval ’s claim to the cross-Channel record, saying he launched from another aircraft rather than taking off from land like their pilot.

Today’s flight in Airbus Group’s E-Fan 1.0 plane was in the reverse direction of Bleriot’s landmark Channel crossing 106 years ago on July 25, 1909.

The twin-engine plane – whose batteries enable it to stay airborne for up to 50 minutes – flew from Lydd Airport in Kent to Calais.

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