Not As Much "Fun," But Quite A Bit Higher
While he was wishing "cheerio" to family and friends before
Monday’s SpaceShipOne flight, pilot Brian Bennie
inadvertently took on 12 ounces more weight than planned.
"My mother-in-law was there with a cup of coffee, she put her
arms around me, wished me well, and this coffee went down the back
of my neck," he said at the news conference following Monday's
successful flight of the homebuilt spacecraft, which captured the
$10 million Ansari X Prize. "So we were about 12 ounces heavier
Referring to the experience itself, Binnie recalled the first
flight in which Mike Melvill rolled 29 times.
"Burt (Rutan) tends to couch everything in terms of fun," he
said. "After Mike’s flight, Burt said, 'Okay, that’s
enough fun.'It wasn't as much 'fun' as Mike’s, but we went a
little bit higher, and it was a joy."
He called the initial feeling at ignition "a rush" and that the
world wakes up around you. It was similar to the descriptions
given by Melvill during his presentations at EAA AirVenture 2004
"You get into the arena with the bull, open the gate, and off you
go," Binnie said.
Binnie took some quick pictures he called spectacular, but
nothing to compare to the view to the human eye. "It is a thrill
that everybody should have once in a lifetime and I am certainly
privileged to have seen it this morning."
Binnie was asked that since Melvill let go of some M&Ms when
he went up the first time in June, so did he release anything? "At
the last minute I was not going to try and do any one-upmanship of
Mike with a competing brand like Skittles," he said. "But somebody
did hand me a paper model of SpaceShipOne, and I got it out and as
I was up there free-falling, a little model of SpaceShipOne was
free-falling within SpaceShipOne, so that was cool for me."
Monday’s flight was as nearly perfect as imaginable, with
no rolls as had occurred in last Wednesday’s flight. Bennie
credited the team at Scaled Composites with working tireless to
solve the anomaly. "We got up there with no rates at all,
essentially. I actually used RCS (reaction control system
thrusters) just to get a different orientation out the window so I
could get a different picture."
[ANN Thanks EAA and Ric Reynolds for the story]