the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer and its pilots Sir
Richard Branson or 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
Rutan, seen above, is no stranger to round the world
attempts. He designed the Voyager that brother Dick and
Jeanna Yeager flew around the world. He is now the man
who designed the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer. Jon
Karkow, seen above, the
chief project engineer and test pilot for the Virgin
The FAI's rules state that a
record attempt like this must start and finish at the
same airfield and cross all meridians of the globe.
What's more the course must not be less than the very
precise figure of 36,787.559 kilometres (around 23,000
miles) which is equal in length to the Tropic of Cancer.
To allow the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer to catch the
vital jet stream winds, the FAI rules don't oblige that
record attempts follow the imaginary line of the Tropic
itself but simply that the distance flown exceeds it.
Karkow test pilot
Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer
looks like no other plane because it is designed to do
what no other plane can. Engineered by Scaled
Composites, the company that built Richard's balloon
gondolas in the past, the aircraft's unique twin-boom
fuselage and wide, graceful wingspan have been created
so that the plane can hold fuel equivalent to nearly
five times its own weight - enough to ensure that it can
make it round the world without stopping.
the sun set over Salina, 8000 people watched from the
side of the runway as Steve Fossett and the Virgin
Atlantic GlobalFlyer successfully took off into the air.
at 18:47 CST, it was a smooth take-off except for a
moment when the aircraft dipped dramatically towards the
runway. "When it dipped we were a little bit
nervous," Jon Karkow said it was not an unusual procedure
during a climb.
take-off Kevin Stass, Mission Control director, said:
"Everyone at Mission Control is really pleased that
the Virgin Atlantic Globalflyer had successful
said it was "an enormous relief to see it lifting
off because it had never flown before with such a load
of fuel on board." Saying
that the aircraft's take-off was a "beautiful
sight", Richard said that having left Salina,
its "next stop Salina. Something I
never thought I'd be able to say with a plane!"
the Attempt About
the Aircraft Steve
the Aircraft Steve
Fossett Biography Richard
Branson Biography Virgin