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Technology

GlobalFlyer Completes Record-Breaking Flight 496

ikewillis writes "Steve Fossett has successfully landed the GlobalFlyer in Kansas, completing the record-breaking flight and becoming the first person to successfully circle the earth in a nonstop solo flight. The journey of 37,000 kilometres has taken 67 hours, many of them fraught with anxiety over whether the custom-made GlobalFlyer aircraft had enough fuel for the trip. Fossett managed to touch down at 2:48 p.m. EST, to the delight of mission control staff, a small crowd and a marching band that had gathered at the airstrip to welcome him."
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GlobalFlyer Completes Record-Breaking Flight

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  • 67 hours no? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fembots ( 753724 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @04:41PM (#11837602) Homepage
    The friendly article mentioned "The journey of 37,000 kilometres took 67 hours".

    What is unknown is the amount of fuel left when the craft was landed, I'm sure I'm not the only one eager to find out.
    • Re:67 hours no? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Leroy_Brown242 ( 683141 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @04:44PM (#11837639) Homepage Journal
      Yeah, it'll be interesting to see if it was jsut an instrument error, evaporation, or whatever else.

      Also, I'm interested in their fuel economy in the real world as compared to what they expected.
      • Re:67 hours no? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Nom du Keyboard ( 633989 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @05:00PM (#11837865)
        Yeah, it'll be interesting to see if it was jsut an instrument error, evaporation, or whatever else.

        Or if it was just hype to add some drama to the flight and keep it at the top of the headlines. Wouldn't be the first time for an artificial crisis.

      • Re:67 hours no? (Score:2, Interesting)

        by KUHurdler ( 584689 )
        "or whatever else."

        I guess my theory of a publicity stunt would fall in that category.
    • Re:67 hours no? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ergo98 ( 9391 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @04:45PM (#11837653) Homepage Journal
      What is unknown is the amount of fuel left when the craft was landed

      One would have to presume that they calculated the necessary amount of fuel beforehand to achieve the lightest flight weight possible. It seems inconceivable that they really lost 2,600 lbs of fuel and still completed the journey fine.

      I see three possibilities.

      -The whole "loss of fuel" thing was a huge publicity stunt that worked wonderfully. Oooh, the anxiety!

      -Their inflight measurements were wrong.

      -They REALLY overfilled it, and had plenty to slop around.
      • I heard (on the TV, no source) that the flight completed with only "a thimbleful of fuel remaining". I guess he got lucky, just making it like that.
      • Re:67 hours no? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by silvwolf ( 103567 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @04:52PM (#11837756)
        -The whole "loss of fuel" thing was a huge publicity stunt that worked wonderfully. Oooh, the anxiety!

        Article Link [kansascity.com]

        "When asked if the Mission Control team had overplayed the seriousness of the fuel shortage, Branson replied: "Incredibly, the thing is, in life truth is often stranger than fiction."

        Branson said he had expected the flight would either be disastrous or boring but "everything that could have happened seems to have happened. There has been a lot of drama.""

        (That was before the landing.)
      • Re:67 hours no? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Richard_at_work ( 517087 ) <richardprice AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday March 03, 2005 @04:54PM (#11837784)
        Remember that at the last minute, they changed the flightplan to take a MASSIVE shortcut by cutting out the northern atlantic route and instead flying directly to Africa and across that way (due to preferential winds apparently) That would have saved a lot of fuel, which probably helped a lot.
      • I think the mission was looking really thin, until he found that fuel powerup over the Pacific. Then it was smooth sailing the rest of the way.
    • by iminplaya ( 723125 ) <iminplaya.gmail@com> on Thursday March 03, 2005 @04:46PM (#11837678) Journal
      You forgot to convert it to metric hours.
  • Congrats (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Rei ( 128717 )
    My congrats to the team. It's nice to see that the lack of testing at full fuel didn't do the mission in, and that they were able to take a position in the record books. :)
    • Re:Congrats (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tehshen ( 794722 )
      They did more than take a position in the record books - they made a new record altogether. This sort of thing doesn't happen that often anymore, so it's nice to see someone trying something new as opposed to doing something old better. Congratulation!
  • Correction (Score:5, Informative)

    by Zebbie ( 706596 ) * on Thursday March 03, 2005 @04:42PM (#11837616)
    The post says that the flight took "more than 80 hours," but the first link [www.cbc.ca] states the flight took 67 hours.

    Also FYI (37,000 km) / (67 hours) = 343.145285 mph ... pretty darn fast considering they were expecting an average of 285mph.

    • Re:Correction (Score:3, Informative)

      by ari_j ( 90255 )
      Regarding the speed, are you sure they expected 285mph or was it 285 knots? Also, was that expected airspeed or ground speed? FWIW, 285kts = 328mph, and even if they expected 285mph, ground speed is higher than indicated airspeed at altitude (although I don't know how high they were flying, I remember reading it was fairly high up).

      So what all did he get to fly over on this trip?
    • 343 MPH is a reasonable speed once wind correction is taken into account. Remember that where he spent most of his time flying, steady winds in excess of 100 mph are not uncommon.

      Although none of the articles specify, I'd guess that the 285 MPH mark is either an IAS (indicated air speed - how fast the plane is going as indicated to the pilot) or more likely TAS (true air speed - how fast the plane is moving through the surrounding air). Ground air speed takes factors like wind into account, and can either
    • by simetra ( 155655 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @05:46PM (#11838467) Homepage Journal
      they're smaller, so more... 80 Canadian hours = approx 67 Regular hours.

  • by B3ryllium ( 571199 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @04:42PM (#11837619) Homepage
    Who gives a flying F***!!!? ;-)
  • by corngrower ( 738661 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @04:43PM (#11837625) Journal
    Congratulations to Fosset and the folks at Scaled Composites!. I'll bet he's had enough flying for awhile and he's probably wanting to take a shower and freshen up some right away.

    I'm wondering how much fuel was left when he landed, given that problem with the missing 2600 lb of fuel. The journey took about 68 hours by my calculations, which was considerably below the initial estimate of 80 hours.

    nbc news had this story http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7075972/

    Ya think he might want to take a ship back to the U.K.? He's probably not going to want a milkshake for a few days either.

    • Congratulations to Fosset and the folks at Scaled Composites!. I'll bet he's had enough flying for awhile and he's probably wanting to take a shower and freshen up some right away.

      I dunno, based on how much time this guy spends trying to go around [fossettchallenge.com] the [torresen.com] world [virginatla...lflyer.com] in vessels with small volumes, I'd be willing to wager that he doesn't enjoy showers. ;)
    • I caught a news article about Northrop testing their "surrogate" (still has a pilot during development) Medium Altitude Long Endurance UAV. The plane is being developed with, you guessed it, Scaled Composites. Here's a picture [primezone.com].
  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) * on Thursday March 03, 2005 @04:43PM (#11837631) Homepage Journal
    a small crowd and a marching band that had gathered at the airstrip to welcome him."

    A guy flies all around the world, non-stop, solo in a jet aircraft and that's his reception. He should have landed in France, they knew how to welcome Lindy.

    The first person to fly, solo, nonstop around the moon and back will probably be greeted by a kid with a kazoo.

  • by yoey ( 247125 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @04:43PM (#11837633) Journal
    Look at what's happened to me,
    I can't believe it myself.
    Suddenly I'm up on top of the world,
    It should've been somebody else.

    Believe it or not,
    I'm walking on air.
    I never thought I could feel so free eee eee.
    Flying away on a wing and a prayer.
    Who could it be?
    Believe it or not it's just me.
  • by RedVortex ( 535518 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @04:44PM (#11837645)
    Why didn't he just took off and re-landed right away, it would've been much faster than going around the world just to land at the same spot... DUH !!! Scientists, always missing the obvious... RedVortex
  • Why Salina, Kansas? I dunno. Maybe for the open space just in case fuel was running short.
    • Re:Salina, Kansas (Score:4, Informative)

      by Jarnis ( 266190 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @04:47PM (#11837692)
      VERY long runway.

      And that's where he started (because of the very long runway that was needed for takeoff).

      And by the record rules, you have to start and land from the same airfield.
  • I feel...nothing (Score:4, Interesting)

    by luchaugh ( 860384 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @04:46PM (#11837669)
    I don't know, maybe I'm jaded, but these "record breaking" feats just don't seem to capture my attention or imagination. I have to think it would have been so exciting to have lived, say, a hundred years ago when these things were garnering world-wide attention and people like Lindberg became heroes. But nowadays, for whatever, reason... nothing. Nada. Zilch. Somewhat disappointed that I can't seem to get into this. Anyone else feel the same?
    • Yeah. The problem for me is, from what I understand, the pilot was just a passenger/backup system. The computer flew the plane. And anyway these kind of records are getting more... shall we say "incremental". Around-the-world fligts have been done. Around-the-world flights without refeuling have been done. The problem with this kind of record is there are too many dependent clauses to make it exciting.
    • by Kalgash ( 158314 ) <jjmcook@gmail.com> on Thursday March 03, 2005 @05:31PM (#11838250) Homepage Journal
      Nope. You're just dead inside. Like so many others you have been anihalated by the constant barage of daily 'life changing' events. You now find it almost impossible to get excited about something whose relative excitement level (by your standards) ranks up there with finding out the current terrorist threat level has been upped once again.

      As a result (and to protect your mental faculties) your capacity for true joy has been severely curtailed. Don't worry. There are many like you out there. Jaded, bored and drowning in ennui. The rest of us allow ourselves the opportunatity to be hurt and perhaps even overloaded. As a result we feel real joy when others accomplish great things.

      I don't really know if your type is more prevalant than my type and frankly I think the answer would probably depress the fuck out of me.

      Try to find your wonderment. In your capacity for humanity. For our ability to push boundries and reach for the unknown. For the very real way that despite all of the dangers we pose to ourselves we have so far avoided utter distruction.

      Unless you are willing to risk disappointment you will never know true joy.

  • Wasn't Yuri Gagarin "the first person to successfully circle the earth in a nonstop solo flight" in Vostok 1, back in '61? Hyuk.
  • I know there was some question as to when or if he was going to sleep. I'm very eager to see how that played out.

    it's easy to say you're not going to sleep. But sleep is a very persistant predator. :)
  • Sleep? (Score:5, Funny)

    by weston ( 16146 ) <westonsd@NOsPAm.canncentral.org> on Thursday March 03, 2005 @04:49PM (#11837712) Homepage
    "The 60-year-old millionaire adventurer stayed awake for almost all of the trip, taking only brief catnaps in the jet"

    A 60 year old staying awake for nearly three days straight is as impressive to me as fuel economy. I couldn't make two full days straight, even when I was 19...
    • Re:Sleep? (Score:4, Funny)

      by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @05:09PM (#11838010) Homepage Journal
      Even more so, a 60 year old going 4 days without going to the bathroom. I'm only 35 and I'm lucky if I can make it 4 hours without having to take a leak...

      I know, I know, they probably had a waste disposal system on the jet. Though it'd be pretty funny if that was one of the things they'd overlooked... "OK, now I'm going to test the Jet's waste disposal system... Aaah... Er... guys... tell me the jet has a waste disposal system?"

      • by jac1962 ( 822171 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @05:40PM (#11838384) Homepage

        I wonder how big his piss can was?

        IIRC, the USAF's U-2S [af.mil] high altitude reconnaissance aircraft piss can held about a quart.

        Sometimes, if we were turning a jet for a second sortie the same day, the crew chief would forget to empty the can (thank God I was an avionics specialist!) after the first pilot had made his contribution. The second pilot would discover this oversight when his urine would fill the can and then back up the tube to overflow in his pressure suit, where it sloshed around for the remainder of the flight. . .

        There is no facility for disposing of solid waste though. Every now and then a mission would abort because the pilot was suffering from "gastrointestinal distress." In the 5th Reconnaissance Squadron's (IYAABYAS!) ops shack, there is plaque high up on the wall, with a roll of toilet paper attached, commerating all those brave U-2 pilots who joined the exclusive "Stratoshitters Club." One guy's name was on there twice. . .

  • He landed at the same airport he started from, and he chose it because he needed a really long runway for takeoff, right? So I wonder if he touched down on the runway at a point beyond where he took off. It'd be a real shame to go all that way and end up a few hundred meters short...

    Just kidding, Steve. Great work, and I can't wait to hear what you'll be trying next!

  • As Voyager, the first aircraft to circle the globe in a single continuous non-stop flight. I don't really see the record-breaking advance in flight that results from having one person in the cockpit instead of two.

    I mean, the point of Voyager having two people was they could take shifts at the wheel to get rest on the extremely long flight. But this is essentially what Steve Fossett had as well, since mission control was watching his instruments while he took naps.

    If anything, this seems like an advance
  • Is it just me, or does the GlobalFlyer look a lot like the XF-11?
    http://www.check-six.com/images/XF-11/xf11-3q-wide .jpg [check-six.com]
    ::Digitac
  • I have it on good authority that he took a shortcut.
  • by PhantomHarlock ( 189617 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @04:51PM (#11837737)
    Jon Karkow, my neighbor and project manager/designer and chief test pilot of this little airplane. It was his baby from start to finish. (in addition to all the other congratulations all around!)

    --M
  • by Nom du Keyboard ( 633989 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @04:51PM (#11837742)
    And his luggage will arrive next week -- at the latest!
  • by OzPeter ( 195038 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @04:52PM (#11837745)
    I'd be one of the first to congratulate him for his flight, but how do you define "Around the earth"?? Especially when:

    a) He was 3000 km shy of the circumference at the equator.

    b) I don't belive he made it into the southern hemisphere.

    • From the official website for the project:

      For the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer and its pilot Steve Fossett to set a world record [virginatla...lflyer.com] for the first solo, non-stop, non-refuelled circumnavigation of the world they will have to follow a strict set of rules laid down by the governing body of aviation record attempts, the Federation Aeronautique Internationale.
      • Yeah I just dug into it and discovered that the FAI rules will award a circumnavigation if it is down to 2/3s of the great circle route distance.

        Still, in this day and age of technology I would think that you could toughen up the rules, so you have to exceed the minimum circumference of the planet.
  • Burt Rutan = Tony Stark [marveldirectory.com]?
  • I don't get it (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Kainaw ( 676073 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @04:55PM (#11837800) Homepage Journal
    This is the same guy who did the first trip around the world in a balloon. He didn't land or refuel that time. So, isn't this his second trip around the world without refuelling?
  • by Dachannien ( 617929 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @04:58PM (#11837834)
    Fossett managed to touch down at 2:48 p.m. EST, to the delight of mission control staff, a small crowd and a marching band that had gathered at the airstrip to welcome him ...leaving 47 injured.

  • by tinrobot ( 314936 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @04:58PM (#11837841)
    Mr. Fossett has just set another record for the longest time spent standing in front of a urinal.
  • Why the hype? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Macrobat ( 318224 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @04:59PM (#11837854)
    This really seems to be overhyped to me. It is, at most, an incremental improvement over the status quo. Lindberg crossing the Atlantic was significant because nothing like it had ever been done; but we first orbited the Earth back in the '60s, military aircraft circle the globe in flight constantly, and there has never really been a commercial need for a plane that could go more than halfway around the world at one time. So, yeah, congratulations and all, but this sounds more like a millionaire sailing around the world in his yacht than the next Magellan.
  • Here is the official site [virginatla...lflyer.com] containing photos, videos, flight logs, etc and Steve's challanges page [stevefossett.com].
  • For those of you who couldn't manage to scrape a connection to the live feed, and I know I had a lot of difficulty, I've put some images captures of the take off [babilim.co.uk] on Monday, the flight [1 [babilim.co.uk], 2 [babilim.co.uk]] itself, the decent [babilim.co.uk] and of course the landing [babilim.co.uk] up on my blog [babilim.co.uk].

    The machine these are sitting on once hosted three front page Slashdot stories simultaneously so I'm not too worried about posting this... err, I think I'll just mail my sysadmin.

    Al.
  • Smithsonian (Score:3, Informative)

    by MDMurphy ( 208495 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @05:16PM (#11838091)
    The Smithsonian already has Voyager, if they end up with SS1 and GlobalFlyer then Burt Rutan is on his way to his own room at the place.
  • by mrdogi ( 82975 ) <{mrdogi} {at} {sbcglobal.net}> on Thursday March 03, 2005 @05:35PM (#11838318) Homepage
    Accordiong to the Live Tracking site [virginatla...lflyer.com] he's no longer moving...
  • by Rorschach1 ( 174480 ) on Thursday March 03, 2005 @05:36PM (#11838338) Homepage
    Did anyone else catch the radio chatter as he switched over to the Selina tower frequency? Lots of congratulations from airlines, and one

    "Fossett, you're a stud."

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