Repaired GlobalFlyer Puts Record Flight Attempt 'Back on Track'
Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer
January 10, 2006 — "The record attempt timeline is back on track."
That's what Adventurist and EAA member Steve Fossett said in announcing that, pending a successful test flight Tuesday or Wednesday, he will fly the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer from Salina, Kansas, to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida this Thursday, January 12. From there he will embark on what he's calling "The Ultimate Flight," the longest flight on record, or 1,200 miles farther than any airplane or balloon has ever flown.
The preliminary test flight will verify a wing repair made by the Scaled Composites team following a collision with a fueling truck last week. Pending a successful test flight, Fossett's flight window remains intact-from mid-January through the end of February. Exact dates will be determined by favorable weather and jet stream conditions.
"The damage sustained to the wing last week could have been a real set back for 'The Ultimate Flight' record attempt," Fossett said. "The repair was a job for experts, and thankfully, we have the best working on this project." He's referring to Scaled's Jon Karkow, Chief Engineer, and Crew Chief Philip Grassa, who worked throughout the past several days to make the repair.
"I am excited for Thursday's flight, as it will serve as more than a traditional transition flight. It will be the best chance to test all the equipment in a live situation before making the go-for-launch decision for the record attempt," Fossett added. He expects to arrive in Florida at 4 p.m. Thursday.
GlobalFlyer, Scaled's 'Model 311' aircraft, is specifically designed for non-stop global circumnavigation by a solo pilot. It made a grand entrance at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2005 following its record non-stop flight around the world without refueling earlier in the year.