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C-Mac
03-03-2005, 06:34 PM
http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/11041551.htm
Posted on Thu, Mar. 03, 2005

Fossett completes round-the-world flight

By DIANE CARROLL

The Kansas City Star


SALINA, Kan. — Steve Fossett completed the first solo flight around the world without refueling when his GlobalFlyer touched down at Salina Municipal Airport at 1:48 p.m. today.

After a flight that lasted slightly more than 67 hours, Fossett got out of the plane and spoke briefly to the crowd that had gathered at the airport. He then posed for pictures and opened a large bottle of champagne with Richard Branson, the owner of Virgin Atlantic, the British airline that funded the flight.

“I'm a really lucky guy now,” Fossett told the crowd. “I got to achieve my ambition.”

The aircraft, reported Wednesday to be critically low on fuel, had 1,900 pounds of fuel remaining when it was off the coast of California this morning, project director Paul Moore said. Had the calculations been wrong, Fossett would have had the option of gliding in with a parachute landing.

In a satellite phone interview with Branson that was broadcast to the media, Fossett said this morning that he was feeling very good.

“I'm really starting to perk up now that I realize I am getting closer to the end,” Fossett said. He said he had had a headache earlier but realized he was probably dehydrated. After drinking water, he felt all right, he said.

Fossett said he'd been busy making a lot of instrument adjustments to fly at a speed that is most fuel efficient. “It's a lot of work for just one person,” he said in a joking tone.

When asked if the Mission Control team had overplayed the seriousness of the fuel shortage, Branson replied: “Incredibly, the thing is, in life truth is often stranger than fiction.”

Branson said he had expected the flight would either be disastrous or boring but “everything that could have happened seems to have happened. There has been a lot of drama.”

The team still is not sure how the aircraft lost a ton of fuel, he said, but it appears to have vented out of the fuel tanks in the early hours of the flight.

“It was obviously very worrying,” he said. “I talked with Steve at the time and he didn't think he was going to make it.”