More Than A Footnote?
Well, by now Steve Fossett has had that well-deserved sleep, meal and shower, the media hordes have left Salina and GlobalFlyer is sitting in a hangar, awaiting what will likely be its final flight (to the Air and Space Museum, via Oshkosh, it's been speculated). But what, besides some fleeting drama and a line in the record books, did the first solo, nonstop round-the-world flight leave as a lasting legacy? According to at least one aviation theorist, it might pave the way for single-pilot operations on long-distance flights. "It took years to go from three to two pilots in the cockpit and now imagine going from two to one and doing it with every bit as much safety and precision of flying, " Bruce Holmes, a NASA aeronautics researcher, told the Houston Chronicle. "If he can do it, why can't we make it something that more and more pilots could do one day, rather than just a few elitists, romanticists and aviation enthusiasts?" For, while Fossett was the only one in the cockpit, he was hardly alone. The record-seeking millionaire had instant access to virtually any navigational, weather or flight data information he could want and a satellite phone gave him instant voice communications with anyone on earth ... provided they had a phone. Oddly enough, it was only in the most basic of human requirements that the flight lacked that high-tech edge. He sucked on diet milkshakes throughout the flight to "minimize" bowel movements and according to one report, "used a bottle for a bathroom." And not all experts were terribly impressed with the flight. "Let's face it, it was a stunt and a big one," Jerry Grey of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics said. "Other than that, it's a footnote in history."