Fuel Leak Forces Fossett to Scrap Flight

Aviation record-setter Steve Fossett thought he had his aircraft's fuel leak problem licked. But it foiled his plans Tuesday morning, stopping his takeoff on a planned round-the-world flight.

Fossett hoped to try again early Wednesday. His goal is to break a 20-year-old distance record by flying his experimental airplane about 27,000 miles nonstop over 3 1/2 days.

"This is disappointing, but we've been through this before," Fossett said after aborting his flight Tuesday morning.

His glider-like craft lost thousands of pounds of fuel last year during that nonstop flight around the world. This time there were problems with a fuel vent system that had been replaced because of last year's troubles.

The fix is easy - replacing seals on the vents.

Even if the fuel leak hadn't resurfaced, Fossett said it was likely winds would have kept him from taking off Tuesday.

"In any adventure like this, there are always uncertainties," said Richard Branson, whose company, Virgin Atlantic, is sponsoring the flight.

Fossett already holds the record for flying solo around the globe in a balloon and for being the first person to circle the globe solo in a plane without stopping or refueling. That flight lasted 67 hours.

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On the Net:

Virgin Atlantic Global Flyer at http://www.virginatlanticglobalflyer.com/


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