The Virgin Atlantic
Global Flyer repositioned itself successfully on Thursday in
preparation for Steve's next globe-girdling record flight. That
attempt could come by the end of this coming week.
In the meantime, they filed the following report on the
Salina, Kansas is a hard place to leave; in fact, the
support and hospitality of the people there means that nobody ever
truly leaves! However, Thursday 12 January saw the GlobalFlyer
aircraft take to the Kansas skies on a trip to sunnier climes in
Just after 10am local time, having filed a flight plan for
NASA's Shuttle Landing Facility at Kennedy Space Center, a weighty,
fuel-laden GlobalFlyer was cleared for take-off by Salina Tower for
possibly the last time.
Just over six hours later, Steve touched down on a runway
usually reserved for craft over 3 times the length of the
GlobalFlyer, over 200 times its weight, but that have a wingspan 7
feet shorter; a NASA Space Shuttle.
From Kennedy Space Center, Steve Fossett said:
"Today brings me a step closer to achieving the longest
flight ever which is one of the biggest challenges I have ever
"Today's flight has been much more than just a repositioning
flight - it has been an opportunity to test that all of the
aircraft's systems are working correctly prior to take off for the
actual record attempt.
"Having arrived at Kennedy Space Center, further tests and
checks will be now be carried out by our technical team, led by Jon
Karkow, which I hope will pave the way to giving the green light
for the actual record attempt, pending the optimum weather
conditions of course!
"I would like to take this opportunity to thank NASA for
their support on this attempt and I look forward to climbing back
into the cockpit very soon to take off for my next, and most
challenging, adventure yet."
Richard Branson, Chairman of Virgin Atlantic was
"The successful repositioning is an important milestone for
'The Ultimate Flight' record attempt and all of the team will be
hoping that the aircraft performed in line with expectations in
readiness for a take off as soon as possible."
It's weather, temperature and jetstream conditions around
the world that will determine when the GlobalFlyer will actually
take off for the ultimate flight, but all the pieces are nearly in
place to allow it to start when those things all line up.