Thursday, March 3, 2005


Steve Fosset and Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer made it!

After almost 3 days in a 7 feet long cockpit, sitting on a cushion during take-off and landing to get a good enough view and surviving on diet milkshakes, Steve Fosset successfully landed in Salina.

Yet another impressive feat made possible by Burt Rutan after Voyager was the first to fly non-stop without refueling almost 20 years ago in 1986.

Staying awake for more than 60 hours takes some preparation:

Three days before this particular attempt, he will go on a low residue diet of protein orientated foods like eggs to ensure that nothing upsets his digestive system and to dispense with the worry and inconvenience of mid-air of bowel movements. He will also be equipped with a pee bottle and a supply of diet milkshakes - which are low residue yet nutricious
When you are doing something at this level, your sleeping requirements drop a lot. On two occasions - while ballooning and sailing - I’ve been awake for just over three days. A pilot Steve Bede has also stayed awake for 71 hours," says Fossett.

"I will also get simulated rest which means staying very relaxed and still. I know how to relax and I also know that when I’m not getting much physical exercise, I don’t need much sleep," continues Fossett.

They were worried about the fuel consumption as the plane came up about 2.600 pounds of fuel short after taking of on Monday. But, thanks to good tail winds, they could continue:

"The range was going to be very close, said Jon Karkow of Scaled Composites, the firm which built the craft. "We had a moment of panic." He said as more data arrived from the aircraft, projections showed the fuel would propel the aircraft throughout its entire 40,234 kilometer (25,000-mile) trek.

"Knowing Steve, if he runs out of fuel short of the airport, he's one of the world's best glider pilots and the plane would be capable of actually gliding for 50 miles at the end," said mission sponsor Richard Branson, who heads Virgin Atlantic.

The web site had problems keeping up with the requests as it slowed down to a crawl. CNN wants money to watch the video but I found a free live feed on MSNBC.

More on MSNBC, CNN and the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer site

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