Thursday, March 03, 2005

Welcome back, Steve

This afternoon, Steve Fossett landed at Salina, KS, over 67 hours after taking off from that same airport. In that time, he flew 25,000 miles, non-stop and unrefueled. This makes him the only person to ever fly solo around the world, unrefueled in an airplane - he already holds that distinction in balloons. Two things stand out: Fossett tripled his turbojet time with this flight, and he is 60 years old - if this was an airline flight, the FAA wouldn't let him fly!

Not to diminish Fossett's contribution, but I really think Burt Rutan is the aviation giant of the age. Fresh off his success with SpaceShipOne, another of his airplanes made aviation history, and his chances of making a successful commercial space venture look good. In fact, the plan is for him to do so in concert with Sir Richard Branson of Virgin fame, who bankrolled this flight as well.

The news media is hardly giving it any press. They're too busy covering Martha's release and Jacko's trial to pay attention to history in the making.

By the way, GlobalFlyer landed with 1900 lbs of fuel, so it appears that either the "missing fuel" was merely an indication problem or he did some massive endurance-stretching.