REAL TIME UPDATE(s)
1957-2359 EST-02.28.05, Final Update 0001, 03.01.05: Steve Fossett
lifted off on his SOLO, around the world adventure at 18:47:10 CST
(00:47:10 UTC), Monday, February 28th... after a delay of several
hours were required to wait for calmer winds. The aircraft took off
at a weight of 22,100lbs - fuel accounts for 18,100lbs of this, to
enable the aircraft to circumnavigate the globe non-stop.
Fossett, already the the first person to circumnavigate the
world (solo) in a balloon, started his journey in the Burt
Rutan designed GlobalFlyer as the day came to an end. Crosswinds,
much stronger than forecast, kept him grounded for several hours as
he waited for calmer conditions. His planned sojourn will
take him NorthEast, toward Chicago, and on to Detroit and Canada
before venturing out across the Atlantic later this
This could be a 'first' for the aviation record books.
While Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager went around the world, non-stop
and on one tank of go-juice, in 1986, a successful flight will make
this the first time that such a feat has been accomplished by
a solo pilot. The 1986 flight was also undertaken by a Burt Rutan
design, something of a grandfather to GlobalFlyer, named
In addition to attempting the solo record, Fossett stands an
excellent chance at breaking the record for the longest flight ever
made by a jet aircraft (Voyager was powered by two piston engines),
which is only about 12,000nm... a tad more than half the distance
GlobalFlyer will need to travel to make it back to his starting
point in Salina, Kansas. The published route will take
him over Africa, the Middle East, India, China and the Pacific
Ocean -- with a last minute detour near Algeria that will allow for
some welcome fuel savings.
Kevin Stass, Mission Control Director, commented
that, "This aircraft had never taken off with such a high fuel
load so this was one of the most dangerous challenges of the record
attempt. Everyone at Mission Control is really pleased that Virgin
Atlantic GlobalFlyer has successfully accomplished take off from
Salina Airport on its journey around the world which will cover
almost 20,000nms and span four continents."
Built by Scaled Composites, the aircraft is a single pilot,
single engine turbofan aircraft designed for non-stop global
circumnavigation. Scaled used computer aided aerodynamics to design
the aircraft. The structure of the plane is entirely made from
composite material and will be ultra light. The aircraft will fly
at 45,000ft and travel 40,000 km at speeds in excess of 250 knots
(285 mph, 440 kph). The aircraft will fly 75% further than the
range record for jet-powered planes.
GlobalFlyer Mission Control claims that 8000 well-wishers
gathered to wish him a safe journey as the fuel-laden aircraft made
a nerve-racking takeoff off Salina's 12,300 foot runway, as the
23,000 mile record flight got started. The trip should bring him
back to Salina, as early as Thursday, with most of the 18,000+
pounds of fuel long-gone by the time he attempts his scheduled
return to Earth.
When last we updated this story, GlobalFlyer was sitting pretty
at nearly 38,000 feet and making over 311 knots as it headed into
Canadian airspace... Yup, he's booking! Go for it, Steve!
We'll keep you updated, as appropriate.