...Fossett Says Handling Was Better Than Expected...

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The engineers at Scaled had warned that the airplane would be "horrendous" to handle, Fossett said, but in fact he was pleasantly surprised. The wing spars are stiff enough, he said, that there was no problem with the wingtips, 114 feet apart, dragging on takeoff, even at 22,000 pounds. The airplane took an 8,000-foot ground roll, but then "jumped off the runway," Fossett said, powered by its single Williams FJ44-3 ATW jet engine, and climbed out at about 800 fpm (try that in your 152). He did have to shift fuel in flight to maintain a workable center of gravity. "It was a little touchy on landing," he said, "but it was entirely manageable." He was able to sleep only a few minutes at a time, and wore earpieces that would provide a not-so-subtle (or pleasant) good morning (via in-ear alarm) if there was any divergence in pitch, roll, airspeed or engine performance. All together he slept only about an hour during the whole 67-hour flight. With communications, planning and navigation, he had plenty of chores to keep him busy the whole time. The flight from Salina to Oshkosh should be a bit simpler ... and will require a lot less fuel.