The Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer, piloted by legendary aviator and record breaker Steve Fossett, successfully landed at Salina, Kansas at 13:50CST (19:50UTC) thereby earning himself yet another record to add to his incredible collection. The round-the-world flight was completed in 67 hours and 2 minutes and 38 seconds. The Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer took off for its round-the-world record attempt from Salina Airport, Kansas at 18:47:10 CST (00:47:10 UTC) on Monday 28 February. Steve Fossett, pilot of the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer, said:
“I’ve wanted to do this flight for a long time - it has been a major ambition. It would not have been possible without the right people being associated with the project, such as Scaled Composites, lead by Jon Karkow, (who built the plane), and Richard Branson, along with Virgin Atlantic’s support, and the team here at Kansas State University including the 11 students who were integral to the project.
“I am very lucky guy - I got to achieve my ambition.”
On landing Steve was greeted by tens of thousands of cheering members of the public at Salina Airport, Kansas who have been avidly following his attempt for the past 67 hours. Once Steve emerged from the cockpit he was met by his wife Peggy, Sir Richard Branson, his friend and fellow adventurer, and Jon Karkow, Chief Engineer for the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer.
Sir Richard Branson, chairman of Virgin Atlantic, commenting from Salina, Kansas:
“Although Steve must be exhausted after his epic journey he is clearly exhilarated to have set a new record.
“We are all delighted that Steve has successfully achieved what can only be described as the last great aviation record remaining. I knew that if anyone could achieve this feat Steve Fossett could. It is amazing to think that since we waved Steve off on Monday his journey has taken him approximately 20,000nms, spanned four continents and goes to show truth is stranger than fiction!”
The record achieved is the first solo non-stop circumnavigation of the world without stopping or refuelling in an aircraft, meeting the criteria of the Federation Aeronautique International (FAI). Steve has also earned records for ‘Speed Around the World non-stop, non-refuelled’ and ‘Close Circuit Distance Without Landing. These records will be verified by the FAI and NAA over the next few weeks. A Guinness World Records official was present on arrival and has confirmed that, based on a preliminary examination of the flight data, Steve has gained yet another world record for “First non-stop solo circumnavigation of the world by an aircraft”.
Kevin Stass, Mission Control, Director, said:
“Everyone at Mission Control is absolutely thrilled and relieved that Steve has made it back to Salina, Kansas to claim the record for the first solo non-stop circumnavigation of the world. This has been a roller-coaster of a ride but it has all been worthwhile, the team at Mission Control really deserved to see the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer arrive home today. The work the whole team has put in, not only over the last 67 hours 2 minutes and 38 seconds, but the last couple of years since the project was conceived, in itself deserves a world record!”
The pioneering aircraft - the world’s most efficient jet plane - was been designed by aviation legend Burt Rutan. The aircraft took off at a weight of 22,100lbs - fuel accounts for 18,100lbs of this to enable the aircraft to circumnavigate the globe non-stop. Built by Scaled Composites, the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer aircraft is a single pilot, single engine turbofan aircraft was designed for non-stop global circumnavigation. Scaled used computer aided aerodynamics to design the aircraft. The structure of the plane is entirely made from composite material and is ultra light and it flies 75% further than the range record for jet-powered planes.