Fossett: "Go For It!"
RealTime Update 0000
EST: A critical decision was made as Steve Fossett approached
Hawaii with strong concerns about winds and fuel foremost in his
mind. With the possibility that he's short as much as 2600 pounds
of fuel, that has either leaked or been mislaid by instrumentation,
Fossett has gambled that he has the range to fly to the US mainland
some 2600 miles further out and proceeded to fly on (position shown
For the moment, there are still no concrete answers as to his
fuel state. Since this flight was the only one to fuel up the bird
to its maximum capacity, there are great questions about the
possibility of a leak having left him short of his needed load.
With luck, it's a simple instrumentation error, but from this point
on, Fossett is going to have to remain vigilant about the
possibility of a deadstick landing.
Should the Williams powerplant become starved for fuel, Fossett
has considerable leeway in finding a landing place... if one is
within range. The aircraft can glide at least 200 miles from it's
current altitude and within the current profile.
Even without the "missing" 2600 pounds of fuel, it is expected
that GlobalFlyer can, indeed, make the mainland... but shortly
thereafter, it's anyone's guess as to whether he can make it all
the way back to Salina. Enroute winds aloft may turn out to be the
key to the success of this voyage, while the lighter weight of
the aircraft does allow for a number of landing options that were
not possible when the aircraft was some 15,000 pounds heavier.
If all goes well, Fossett could be back in Salina by lunchtime,
Thursday... and after subsisting on diet shakes for the last three
days, we're sure he's looking forward to a more substantial
As of 2355, EST, Wednesday night, Fossett is
passing Hawaii at 46,233 feet, doing 298 kts on a heading of 114.4
degrees. Mission control is now claiming that tailwinds are better
than expected... so someone's rabbit's foot is cranking up the
aeronautical mojo. We're thinking very
fuel-efficient/favorable-tail-wind thoughts for him... we hope
you are, too.
We'll keep you updated as the flight progresses.