Circumpolar Flight On Hold, Again


Aviator Gus McLeod had hoped to launch from Maryland this month and circumnavigate the earth via both poles in his single-engine Firefly — but the effort is now on hold at least until spring. A landing-gear glitch had already caused delays, but now there’s a problem with a thick yellow fluid contaminating the fuel system. “As of now, I do not know what the contaminant is, nor how it got there,” McLeod said last week. “But its presence in the fuel system and engine requires that I partially disassemble the aircraft to correct the damage. Although this process is not difficult, it is very time consuming … Fortunately, the Poles are not going anywhere and they will be there this spring.” McLeod made a similar attempt last year and was turned back over Antarctica by weather and icing problems. About a quart of mysterious goop was found in the tanks after a test flight last week. “I’ve been turning a wrench for 40 years and I’ve never seen anything like this,” Bob Hawkins, an A&P who worked on the airplane, told The Associated Press. The contaminated fuel has been sent to a lab for testing. McLeod plans to move the airplane to a more secure hangar to ensure it can’t be tampered with.