Scary Final Moments On "Ultimate Flight"
ANN REALTIME UPDATE
02.11.06 1220EST: After diverting from his intended landing spot at
Kent International Airport, Steve Fossett landed moments ago at
The GlobalFlyer website reports Fossett declared an emergency
while on approach to Kent due to a generator failure on the
aircraft. He was able to avoid ditching the aircraft, and is
reportedly safe at the southern England airport.
Fossett officially surpassed the world record for the longest
flight ever by an aircraft over Shannon, Ireland.
ANN REALTIME UPDATE 02.11.06 1000EST: He's going for it!
Steve Fossett has passed the 'point of no return' crossing the
Atlantic, and is now heading towards Shannon in Ireland with the
hope of continuing onto Manston.
After careful deliberation and analysis over available fuel and
wind data, the team has concluded that there is a reasonable chance
of success and agreed that Steve should take the risk.
"We've been looking at the jet streams and the amount of fuel
Steve has left in the tanks, and agreed at around 10:30 UTC that
Steve could definitely make Shannon, if not Manston," said Jon
"It will be tense for us all here during the next few
While landing in Shannon would net Fossett the record, it's
clear the team is casting its eyes further east, to the original
destination spot of Kent in the UK.
The GlobalFlyer is expected to reach Ireland at approximately
1020EST, at which time Fossett will begin his descent towards
England -- with an expected touchdown time at 1200EST.
ANN REALTIME UPDATE 02.12.06 0000EST: He's either
Ireland-bound.... Kent-bound... or Florida-bound. That's the word
from mission control on possible landing sites for Steve Fossett
and the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer. Fossett has once again passed
over the eastern coast of the US, and now beginning his trek
east... on what is being called the riskiest part of his entire
Although Steve has had reasonable tailwinds -- which the team
were hoping would continue -- it looks as though he will have
almost no tailwinds to assist on the final leg of the trip. That'll
be a problem, certainly, as the 750lbs of fuel he lost during
take-off means he needs good jet streams to aid his flight.
That means it'll soon be decision time for Fossett... as about
two-hours into his second Atlantic crossing, he will have to decide
whether he has the fuel and good enough weather patterns to make a
bid for Kent.
"The Scaled Composite engineers are currently looking at data to
see if there are ways to minimize the fuel Steve’s burning so
he has a better chance of landing at Kent International Airport,"
said mission controller Kevin Stass. "It’s going to be a bit
of nail biter tomorrow, but we're cautiously optimistic."
Essentially, Fossett has three choices: continue on to Kent,
England -- the original destination for the flight -- and hope for
the best; turn around and head back to Florida; or, a compromise:
divert to an alternate landing site in Ireland, which isn't as far
as Fossett would have liked to have travelled, but should still
earn him the longest-distance record.
Turning around is the least-palatable option.
"The decision of whether to turn back is looming," Fossett told
a UK television station Friday. "Currently I would say the chances
are no more than 50/50. I will have until 11:30 UTC when I reach
the point of no return and will be forced to make this crucial
"It would be devastating to have to ditch the Ultimate Distance
Record when I am on the home straight," he added.