Permanent Human Settlement of the Earth, Space and Ocean Frontiers

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Gearing Up for Aviation Record

It’s raining outside right now. The temperature is 61.8 F. But just a few miles from here, safely tucked away and dry in a government hangar is Steve Fossett’s Global Flyer aircraft. He and his team is gearing up for a scheduled takeoff from the Kennedy Space Center’s extra long 15,000 feet shuttle runway for a record-setting, more-than-just-another round the world flight.

Fossett, 61, plans to fly east from Florida over the Atlantic, around the globe and back over the Atlantic a second time before landing at Kent International Airport outside London. Conditions also must be acceptable in the high-altitude jet stream where Global Flyer will be positioned for its 26,000-plus mile journey. The trip is expected to take about 80 hours. It’s winter time in Florida (as winter as it gets here) and the cooler temperature makes for denser air and an easier lift for Global Flyer, whose 11-ton weight at takeoff is 87 percent fuel.

The weather at Kennedy Space Center and global jet stream conditions look as if they could be acceptable for a launch Tuesday of Steve Fossett's attempt to make the longest non-stop flight in aviation history. Fossett is seriously considering a take off run between 6:48 PM and 7:11 AM. The 80-hour trip would cover a record 26,160 miles.

Fossett is no strangerto aircraft or record breaking flights. In March 2005, Fossett piloted the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer, successfully circumnavigating the globe flying 22,928 miles (36,898 km) for the First Solo Nonstop around the world flight. The current record for the longest aeroplane flight is held by the Voyager aircraft, which flew for 24,987 miles (40,212 km) in 1986. The longest flight by any kind of aircraft is held by the Breitling Orbiter balloon which flew for 25,361 miles (40,814 km) in 1999. After take off from the Kennedy Space Center Steve Fossett will circumnavigate the globe, then continuing on, flying across the North Atlantic and landing at Kent International airport. Steve Fossett aims to beat both of these existing records. In fact, Fossett is quoted to have said that he is doing this so that his record can be safely retired without ever being challenged in the future. Come on Steve - get real!