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Sat, Jan 14, 2006

Global Flyer Ready For Departure From Shuttle Runway

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 excursion...

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 Florida.

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 undertaken.

"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 commented:

"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.



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