Steve Fossett hopes to add to his sailing global record 24/1/06

American sailor Steve Fossett who set a new crewed round the world sailing record of 58 days 9 hours 32 minutes 45 seconds in April 2004 aboard his 125ft catamaran Cheyenne is at it again. This time aboard Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer.

Fossett, who has a passion for breaking world speed and distance records in five different sports, achieved the first solo, non-stop, non refuelled circumnavigation of the world by an airplane in his Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer in 67 hours last year (28 February -3 March). But now he intends to attempt ‘The Ultimate Flight’, which targets the absolute longest distance flight in aviation history (farther than any airplane or balloon has flown) taking off from Florida, completing first a full RTW before carrying on across the North Atlantic a second time to land in England.

This single engine turbofan aircraft which can reach speeds of 285mph should be able to complete the challenge in 80 hours.

The aircraft has been specifically designed for non-stop global circumnavigation for a solo pilot and its aerodynamics and configuration is optimised for range and fuel efficiency.

The plane’s trimaran-like construction with two huge external ‘booms’ holds the landing gear and supports 5,454 pounds of fuel on either side of the pilot’s 7ft loa cockpit in the centre on top of which is the single Williams turbofan jet engine. The construction materials used for the structure is all graphite/epoxy. The stiffest carbonfibres are used in the construction of the wings, and the skin is a sandwich of graphite/epoxy and Aramid honeycomb.

According the GlobalFlyer team the aircraft has no anti-ice measures which means that it will be unable to fly in ‘icing’ conditions. In addition, it won’t cope with turbulence very well in the early part of the flight when the aircraft is heavy and structural margins low; so weather will be an important factor in choosing when and where to take off from.

Fossett and Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer are currently situated at NASA’s Shuttle Landing Facility at Kennedy Space Centre ready awaiting a suitable weather window for takeoff. Fossett commented: “Having arrived at Kennedy Space Centre, further tests and checks will be now be carried out by our technical team, led by Jon Karkow, which I hope will pave the way to giving the green light for the actual record attempt, pending the optimum weather conditions of course!

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank NASA for their support on this attempt and I look forward to climbing back into the cockpit very soon to take off for my next, and most challenging, adventure yet.”