GlobalFlyer Lost Fuel After Takeoff: Fossett Presses On
February 9, 2006 — As Steve Fossett wings his way across India in the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer, another occurrence from just after Wednesday's takeoff was revealed this morning by "Ultimate Flight" Mission Control: The aircraft lost approximately 750 lbs of fuel during its climb out of Florida. The exact cause for this loss has yet to be verified, though it has been partly attributed to the build up of pressure in the fuel tanks.
In the March 2005 flight around the world, the airplane vented more than 3,000 lbs of fuel after takeoff yet was still able to complete its fight around the world from Salina, Kansas. No word on whether the loss of fuel will force Fossett to forego his final destination of Kent, England, but things have stabilized as he heads east over Asia. According to the most recent update, the fuel loss will "greatly diminish the total number of miles the aircraft can achieve during this flight."
Otherwise the flight seems to be going about as planned. "After a shaky start, with a few worries on the climb, things have now stabilized, so I can start to enjoy the ride," Fossett said via telephone. "Temperatures are more bearable now allowing me to get more comfortable and conserve precious liquid supplies for the rest of the journey." Fossett had to endure abnormally high temperatures of up to 130° F, which caused him to drink more fluids than anticipated to stay hydrated.
Kevin Stass, mission control director cautioned, "Steve has already had to deal with a number of issues which could threaten the success of his attempt. His journey has not been comfortable to say the least, with the concern over the loss of fuel and the extreme heat at the beginning of the journey. The fuel loss will diminish the total number of miles it is able to travel, and owing to the high temperatures at the start, Steve was not able to climb to altitude as fast as he needed to. It has been a big challenge but Steve is coping very well and remains positive."
Jon Karkow, chief engineer and launch director added, "Record-setting endurers never seem to be without their drama. This flight of the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer has not been an exception. Still, things have settled down a bit now and we can concentrate more fully on getting the best range out of the aircraft."