Home / Steve Fossett Ends Phenomenal 3-Day, No-Refueling Record Solo Flight Around The World

Steve Fossett Ends Phenomenal 3-Day, No-Refueling Record Solo Flight Around The World

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Steve Fosset, 60 year old billionaire entrepreneur aviator pilots the globalflyer in the first solo no-refueling circumnavigation record-breaking 3-day flight.

The flight took exactly 67 hours, 2 minutes and 38 seconds and ended at the 12,000 foot runway in Salina, Kansas. Salinas was chosen as the final stop in this aviation breakthrough flight precisely because of its superior length.

Proud citizens of Salina, it’s high school Cougar band, the press, his long-time friend, fellow aviator, co-sponsor and head of Virgin Atlantic, Richard Branson and Fosset’s wife greeted the smiling Steve warmly.

Upmost on everyone’s mind was the physical state that Steve Fosset would be in after being cooped up in a sitting position in the 7-foot long cockpit for the entire flight, drinking water, protein shakes and only able to indulge in short cat naps throughout.

He stood strongly, waved continuously, ran away a bit when Richard Branson doused him properly with celebratory champagne. He looked as cheery and strong as he did when he completed his previous hot air balloon flight around the world and ran a marathon a day or two afterwards.

The flight was meticulously planned and flawlessly executed. The plane was constructed from highly advanced and durable composite material and carried 13 different tanks of gas.

The breakthrough technology, expert planning and Steve Fosset’s good old-fashioned pilot skill, responsible for continuously maintaining the plane’s balance by shifting fuel consumption from tank to tank, all combined to create the Virgin Atlantic globalflyer victory.

Flying over Hawaii last night, it was discovered that 2,600 pounds of fuel had leaked of the 18,000 pounds originally stored before the plane’s Monday takeoff. The tough decision about whether to call it quits or to continue was evaluated by mission control on the ground, the chase plane and Steve himself.

In the end, with the jet stream sometimes reaching as much as 130 knots and Steve’s continuing good physical condition, Steve said ‘let’s go for it’. Fosset constantly flew in and out of the tailwinds to fulfill marker requirements for the historical circumnavigation. His expert aviation skills combined with the better-than-expected jet stream tipped the balance and brought the globalflyer successfully and safely home.

Burt Ruton, airplane designer, gave Fosset a 8 1/2 score on his landing and commended him on a ‘phenomenal job’. The Smithsonian Institute has already requested that it be chosen as the permanent resting place for the Virgin Atlantic record breaking globalflyer.

Congrats to Steve Fosset, Richard Branson and Burt Ruton for combining money, technology and smarts to produce a record no-refueling solo flight around the world that will herald other aviation breakthroughs for some time to come.

Read here for information on the First Females of Flight
Here for Fossett’s hot air balloon flight
First black female solo pilot here

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About Angela Chen Shui

  • RJ

    A great acheivement!

  • Thanks for this item, Angela. I love stories like this! One of my personal disappointments with the era I’ve lived in is that pushing the limits of manned exploration have not kept pace with the quantum leaps in overall technological development.

    These are wonderful technological times, don’t get me wrong. But consider the backdrop of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, when people were learning flight. It must have been astounding to the average person to see an aeroplane. In comparison, we witness a solo no-refuel circumnavigation only now? 72 years after Lindberg? It seems to me that it should have taken place not long after the moon landings.

    Anyhow, I hope this act spurs the imagination and inspires others to push the envelope further.

  • We were downcast upon hearing of the fuel problem, then worried when Fosset decided to go on, and finally joyous as he came in for a landing.

    My spouse had the best call on it, though: “Only a retired billionaire in good shape could even think of doing something like this.”

  • Rutan and his crew are also responsible for SpaceShip One and winning the X-prize.

    Let’s take a few of the billions that NASA throws around so carelessly and give it to Rutan to play with. We’ll be on Mars in an eyeblink!

  • I just heard a press conference with Fossett – he’s already thinking of his “next project.”

  • RJ

    Private enterprise is clearly the way to go forward with this.

    NASA does some great things, and also screws the pooch on a few things. How about we bring in some competition?

  • RJ

    Private enterprise is clearly the way to go forward with this.

    NASA does some great things, and also screws the pooch on a few things. How about we bring in some competition?

  • NASA wouldn’t have any competition if it actually produced something. The subsidies it receives and the results that should go along with it would be enough to keep any competitors at bay.

    That began to occur to me as I thought more deeply on my previous comment, where I expressed disappointment at the lack of achievements. Then I began to follow the money. Research was diverted to war production in large measure until a clear goal was finally enunciated- the moon. Their have been goals for NASA since then, but not nearly as grand as that was.

    Since NASA isn’t achieving goals today that satisfy the sense of wonder, private citizens will fill the void.