In 1909 an English newspaper offered ￡1,000 to the first man to fly across the English Channel in an aeroplane. Today, modern jets cross it in minutes. But at that time it still seemed a good distance. The race to win the money soon became a race between two men. Both were very colorful.
One is Louis Bleriot. He owed a factory in France that made motor car lamps. He was already well known as a pilot because he had crashed several times. Some people laughed at him. One man said, "He may not be the first to fly across the Channel but he will certainly be the first to die in a crash!" But Bleriot was really a good and brave pilot. He also had many good ideas about aeroplane design.
The other man was Hubert Latham. He was half French and half English. He took up flying when his doctors told him he had only a year to live. "Oh, well," he said, "If I'm going to die soon, I think I shall have a dangerous and interesting life now." Latham was the first to try the flight across the Channel. Ten kilometers from the French coast, his plane had engine trouble. It crashed into the water and began to sink under the water. A boat reached Latham just in time. He was sitting calmly on the wing and was coolly lighting a cigarette. Bleriot took off six days later. He flew into some very bad weather and very low cloud. He somehow got to the English side and landed in a farmer's field. When he did so, a customs officer rushed up to his plane. Planes have changed since then but customs officers have not. "Have you anything to declare?" the officer demanded.
1. The story took place ___.
A. in the early 20th century
B. in the 19th century
C. right after World War I
D. at a time not mentioned in the passage
2. "A good distance" here means ___.
A. a fairly long distance
B. a distance shorter than people thought
C. an easy flying distance
D. no distance at all
3. Bleriot was well known as a pilot because ___.
A. he was exceptionally brave
B. he was quite rich
C. he had many good ideas about the aeroplane design
D. he had a few accidents
4. Why did Hubert Latham want to fly across the Channel?
A. He thought he could manage it easily.
B. He wanted to compete with Louis Bleriot.
C. He knew he only had a year to live.
D. He had always been interested in flying.
5. Why did the customs officer rush to the plane?
A. To see if everything was all right with the plane.
B. To make sure that the pilot was not hurt.
C. To ask why the plane had landed in a farmer's field.
D. None of the above.
KEY: 1. A 2. A 3. D 4. C 5. C