What’s next for the Virgin Atlantic Global Flyer and its millionaire pilot Steve Fossett?
Fossett, who flew solo, nonstop around the world in 67 hours, 1 minute and 46 seconds, was presented with the world record by David Hawksett from Guinness World Records a few days after the flight ended. During the presentation, Fossett noted that, despite being very tired, he “”could have lasted out another day in terms of sleep and concentration.”"
Fosset, who flew 19,800 nautical miles, added he “”really enjoyed the flight. Maybe a person has to be a pilot to appreciate this, but a pilot loves to fly.”"
While welcoming the challenge of flying “”such a sophisticated experimental plane,”" Fosset noted that more time needs to be spent working on the fuel system. Loss of fuel became a main concern during the flight, leading him to consider landing in Hawaii or California.
Much debate has occurred as to why the fuel levels were depleted. The Global Flyer team is conducting testing to determine exactly what happened.
“”The final accounting for fuel has yet to be done,”" said Jon Karkow from Scaled Composites, Burt Rutan’s company, which designed and built the Global Flyer. He said that Fossett returned with 1,515 lbs. of fuel remaining. The airplane lost 2,600 lbs., but because it was lost early in the flight, the plane was lighter, which meant that it actually needed less fuel as the flight went on.
The record-breaking flight won’t be the plane’s last. Officials says it will make a few more journeys, including the return flight to the Scaled Composites base in Mojave.
Meanwhile, folks in Salina, Kan., where the historic flight began and ended, are talking of building a museum to commemorate the event. And look for Fossett’s autobiography in bookstores soon.