Go Or No Go?
'Ultimate Flight' Team Nears Decision Time
February 10, 2006 — As EAAer Steve Fossett makes his way across the Southern U.S. in the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer, he's nearing decision time: whether to press on to England after reaching the East Coast or abort his attempt to make history and achieve the longest flight in history. "The decision of whether to go for it or turn back is looming, currently I would say the chances are no more than 50/50," he said while over Big Spring, Texas, 18,214 nm (20,960 statute miles) and nearly 58 hours into the flight. "I will have until around 11:30 UTC (6:30 am EST), a couple of hours into the final leg across the Atlantic, when I reach the point of no return and will be forced to make this crucial decision. It would be devastating to have to ditch the ultimate distance record when I am on the home straight."
If they decide to go for it, Fossett is projected to land sometime around 18.30 UTC (1:30 pm EST) on Saturday, February 11.
"The final 24 hours will be no walk in the park," he added. "I am seriously worried about the amount of fuel remaining, given the weakness of the jet streams across America and the Atlantic." The aircraft lost about 750 pounds of fuel during its initial climb from Kennedy Space Center on Wednesday. 3,200 lbs remained as Fossett overflew Big Spring.
Mission Control is continuing to work on both wind speeds and fuel efficiency over the coming hours to determine what gives Fossett the best chance of succeeding.