GlobalFlyer -- Around The World, And Beyond
Adventurer Steve Fossett flew in to Oshkosh Wednesday afternoon in GlobalFlyer, the long lanky Williams jet-powered Scaled Composites design that he flew around the world last winter. The airplane is surprisingly gorgeous, looking more like a work of art than a practical traveling machine. The long narrow wings, the bright red Williams engine pod, and the tiny cockpit module create an other-worldly effect. "It's been a great-flying airplane, from the very first flight," Fossett said at a press conference Thursday morning. "And I don't think it's been flown to its limit yet." (Which would make sense since a design error discovered during the round-the-world flight allowed fuel to vent overboard.) So he announced a new plan to take the aircraft around the world again, and then keep going. This time, Fossett plans to cross the Atlantic a second time during the same flight to set a new world record for the longest flight ever. Fossett said the fuel-overflow problem that caused problems on his first flight has been resolved. The fuel vents were in the wrong place, and now they have been moved to two foot-tall masts added to each fuel boom, and no loss of fuel is expected. With that fix, Fossett said, the engineers have told him the aircraft is capable of nonstop flight of up to 29,000 miles. No other changes will be needed to the airplane, Fossett said, though he plans to tweak some of the automated and alarm systems so he can get more sleep. The flight, planned for February, will take about 85 hours. Fossett said he may launch again from Salina, Kans., but he is also considering an offer from NASA to use the Kennedy Space Center, which has a 15,000-foot runway.