Record-Attempt Aircraft Sabotaged?
A Maryland pilot who hopes to circumnavigate the globe via the two poles says someone apparently poured lacquer thinner into his aircraft's fuel tanks. "This is a hard thing to wrap my mind around," Gus McLeod told the Baltimore Sun. "I can't believe I would be so important that someone would want to hurt me." McLeod told the Sun he left his Firefly, a modified Velocity, outside his hangar one night with a can of laquer thinner on the ground beside it. He found the empty can the next day but apparently didn't suspect the new whereabouts of its contents. On a shakedown flight on Oct. 16, he experienced engine problems and upon landing found yellow goo in the fuel lines. Later tests confirmed the presence of laquer thinner in the fuel and inspection of the fiberglass fuel tank revealed they'd been partially dissolved, resulting in fuel-line blockage. McLeod has since moved the plane to a secure location and hopes to launch his second attempt at circumnavigation in the spring. He got within 1,000 miles of the South Pole on his first attempt last year before airframe ice forced him back. McLeod got in the record books in 2000 when he became the first to fly an open-cockpit biplane to the North Pole.