Fossett Decides to Continue Aviation Quest
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) _ Adventurer Steve Fossett decided Saturday to try to complete his nearly 27,000-mile journey to break aviation’s distance record, despite losing fuel during takeoff.
Mission control director Kevin Stass said he’s ``cautiously optimistic″ and says Fossett himself is in good shape despite the marathon flight. Fossett lost 750 pounds of fuel during takeoff from the Kennedy Space Center on Wednesday because of a leak.
Fossett, who is flying a lightweight experimental airplane, had to decide whether to try to finish the trip or abort after reaching a certain point over the Atlantic. He now has little opportunity to land the plane if he runs out of fuel. If the trip is successful, he is scheduled to land in England between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. EST.
Fossett on Friday circumnavigated the world and then altered his projected route over the Atlantic to make up for the lost fuel and weak winds. He had planned to fly the Virgin Atlantic Global Flyer on a northeasterly path across the Atlantic that would allow Newfoundland to serve as an emergency landing site.
But the adjusted path called for Fossett to cross Florida, where he started his nonstop journey, and take a more southerly path on the flight’s last leg to take advantage of better winds.
The voyage would break the airplane distance record of 24,987 miles set in 1986 by the lightweight Voyager aircraft piloted by Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager, as well as the balloon record of 25,361 miles set by Brian Jones and Bertrand Piccard in 1999.
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