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Steve Fossett Approaches Baja Penninsula

February 10, 2006 — EAAer Steve Fossett is 45,000 feet MSL over the Pacific Ocean, clipping along at about 210 mph with his sights set on reaching Mexico's Baja Peninsula coastline around midday Friday. Just before 8 p.m. ET Thursday, Fossett reached 35 degrees north and 140 degrees east, the halfway point of his "Ultimate Flight" in the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer after 36 hours and 47 minutes aloft and 12,109nm (13,935 miles).

"It's great to get to the halfway point and I am relieved that the turbulence had now calmed down and I can concentrate on the flight," he said. Fossett revealed to mission control that the turbulence over Bhopal, India, was so severe that he feared a wing might break and decided to strap on his parachute.

"I was afraid it was going to break up," he said. "It was a scary time and I had my parachute on and I was prepared to bail out in case a wing broke."

It's still uncertain as to whether the loss of approximately 750 lbs of fuel on his initial climb out would prevent Fossett's attempt to complete the last major leg over the Atlantic to England. Mission control is busy working out the possibilities and should know sometime later today.

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