navigation system on board Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer
crashed for two hours today leaving its pilot with no
idea where he was going. Adventurer Steve Fossett
is attempting to become the first person to fly solo
non-stop around the world. He
hopes to complete the trip – which began early today
– in less than 80 hours.
all did not run smoothly in the first few hours of the
challenge. For two hours the Global Positioning
System (GPS) was disabled, not only leaving Fossett
without a navigation guide but knocking out the
auto-pilot. With no GPS, the trip would not have
been accepted by the Federation
Aeronautique Internationale (FAI), the airline
authority monitoring the event. The trip still
could have counted for the Guinness World Records, but
not as a bona fide aviation achievement.
Atlantic Global Flyer
he flew over eastern Canada, Fossett had to decide
whether he want to continue.
described the glitch as a potential “show-stopper”
– strong words for a man not known for expressing much
emotion. The 60-year-old told Mission Control in
Salina, Kansas where the plane took off and is due to
land that he was determined to carry on.
warning, the system suddenly clicked back in, much to
the relief of the pilot and his support staff on the
Stass, Mission Control Director, said the system
corrected itself with no help from the experts on the
would have been a big problem,” he said. “We
couldn’t figure out what the problem was.
couldn’t really know where he was and we probably
would have missed a couple of key way points.
“But it started working again and as long as it is
working, we don’t really care.” Mr Stass said
the flight, which has been going for more than 12 hours,
was going “remarkably well”, despite the GPS
said there was concern that reports of turbulence during
yesterday’s test flights would affect GlobalFlyer, but
all seemed to be running smoothly. “Turbulence is a
concern, we delayed take-off because of the winds but
they died down as the sun went down,” he said.
project’s sponsor, Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson,
met up with the GlobalFlyer over Canada, following its
progress in a chase plane. Talking about the
take-off, which was the most feared part of the attempt
because of the enormous load of fuel on board, he said:
“It was a very emotional moment, seeing him off.
“It was, perhaps, one of the most tricky stages of a
trip like this.”
test flight above the Sierra Nevada mountains
Richard, 54, said 80% of the danger was over now that
the aircraft was in the air.
took off carrying a weight of 21,900lbs – 86% of this
was made up of fuel.
had never flown so heavy and the aircraft’s makers,
the Californian based company Scaled Composites, feared
it might have broken up or even failed to lift off the
ground. But the plane successfully took to the skies in
front of more than 8,000 spectators at 6.47pm local time
last night (12.47am UK time) in the Kansas city.
was previously best known for manufacturing frozen
pizza, so the record breaking attempt has given the area
something of a boost. Because of the weight, it
was impossible for Fossett to reach his final cruising
height of 45,000ft without burning off some fuel.
At 7.30am local time (1.30pm UK times) he was
approaching north Africa and the aircraft weighed
is currently at 44,000ft and should reach optimum
cruising altitude by the time he passes Casablanca.
engineer and test pilot Jon Karkow said much of the
gasoline and kerosene on board was expected to be taken
up in the early stages of the flight and there was no
concern that GlobalFlyer was burning fuel too quickly.
will spend the next two days in his 7.7ft cockpit in
which he is severely cramped.
has been tucking into chocolate milkshakes as his only
form of sustenance. But
he will have little to distract him because for 20% of
the journey he will be flying in the dark, due to the
fact that he is constantly heading east.
GlobalFlyer will only be spotted over the Atlas
Mountains in Morocco, the Indian plains beyond Delhi and
above the islands of Hawaii.
the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer and its pilot Steve Fossett to set a world record
for the first solo, non-stop, non-refuelled
circumnavigation of the world they will have to follow a
strict set of rules laid down by the governing body of
aviation record attempts, the Federation Aeronautique
the Attempt About
the Aircraft Steve
the Aircraft Steve
Fossett Biography Richard
Branson Biography Virgin