Circumpolar Flight On Hold, Again

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Aviator Gus McLeod had hoped to launch from Maryland this month and circumnavigate the earth via both poles in his single-engine Firefly -- but the effort is now on hold at least until spring. A landing-gear glitch had already caused delays, but now there's a problem with a thick yellow fluid contaminating the fuel system. "As of now, I do not know what the contaminant is, nor how it got there," McLeod said last week. "But its presence in the fuel system and engine requires that I partially disassemble the aircraft to correct the damage. Although this process is not difficult, it is very time consuming ... Fortunately, the Poles are not going anywhere and they will be there this spring." McLeod made a similar attempt last year and was turned back over Antarctica by weather and icing problems. About a quart of mysterious goop was found in the tanks after a test flight last week. "I've been turning a wrench for 40 years and I've never seen anything like this," Bob Hawkins, an A&P who worked on the airplane, told The Associated Press. The contaminated fuel has been sent to a lab for testing. McLeod plans to move the airplane to a more secure hangar to ensure it can't be tampered with.