Steve Fossett, AOPA 4797027, will hold 110 world records if his flight around the world plus a second crossing of the Atlantic Ocean goes as planned. His Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer could become the farthest flying airplane in history. Fossett's aircraft hit and killed a couple of birds Wednesday as it lifted off the 15,000-foot Kennedy Space Center runway after a ground roll of 11,500 feet. Apparently, there was no damage. Fossett would have needed another 7,000 feet of runway, which he didn't have, to abort the takeoff. His aircraft leaked 750 pounds of fuel, or enough for 1,000 miles of flight, during the climb. A fuel leak had also delayed his departure by one day but was thought to be fixed when fuel vents were repaired. His airspeeds, with weaker tailwinds than hoped for Wednesday, averaged between 325 and 375 knots. Team controllers asked Fossett late Wednesday night to slow down to conserve fuel. His indicated airspeed was 115 knots Thursday morning. If he makes it past the goal of 26,000 miles, he will land in Kent, England, near London. He must first circle the globe back to Florida. You can track the flight live on the GlobalFlyer Web site.
February 9, 2006