...A Record No Matter What
So, what happened to all that fuel? The concentration seems focussed (sensibly) on making the most of the JP-4 that didn't disappear but there has been some speculation centering around where it all went ... if in fact it went anywhere at all. A venting problem or simply a miscalculation of the initial consumption on climb out are among the theories -- though human or instrument error can't be discounted. Whatever happened, concern of an abnormal burn or leak stopped after about three and one-half hours and Fossett kept flying. Along the way he set at least one new record. Until Wednesday, the record for "distance without landing" belonged to a B-52 and it was set in 1962 (Rutan's Voyager notwithstanding ... classes, categories, engines ...). When it looked like Fossett might not complete the flight, Conference and Record Board reps got together via conference call and voted to give him the record. His first available airport after reaching the point of no return beyond Hawaii is Catalina Island.