Fossett Claims New Flight Record

Adventurer Steve Fossett said Friday that he had broken the record for flying farther than anyone departing and landing at the same spot, traveling more than 25,000 miles in three days.

Fossett landed his lightweight experimental aircraft at Salina Municipal Airport a few hours ahead of schedule, at 9:06 a.m. CST, more than 74 hours after he took off from the same place.

Certification of the record could take two weeks to a year.

Fossett said he flew about 25,300 miles in the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer. The previous closed-circuit record of nearly 25,000 miles was set in 1986 by Richard Rutan and Jeana Yeager.

Fossett called the flight "a great satisfaction" but conceded, "It might not mean a lot to people outside of aviation."

The flight came about a year after he flew out of Salina on the world's first solo nonstop trip around the globe. He returned after 23,000 miles and 67 hours. Last month, he broke the record for the world's longest aircraft flight, traveling 26,389 miles in about 76 hours.

Fossett piloted the GlobalFlyer on roughly the same route as the flight he took last year, but he added turns to increase the mileage.

He avoided problems with fuel and generators that had plagued two previous GlobalFlyer flights, but a brake malfunctioned, causing the plane to do a complete turn on the runway after it touched down.

Fossett said he became restless during his three days in the plane.

"Overall this was a very difficult flight because of the amount of time involved," he said. "On the other hand, the flight went very well."

He said he is retiring the GlobalFlyer and may donate it to the Smithsonian Institution.


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