Oshkosh, WI -- EAA AirVenture 2005, which already has confirmed a stellar lineup of the world's most unique aircraft, has added another blockbuster. The Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer, which Steve Fossett piloted in the first non-stop, non-refueled solo flight around the world, will take part in the 53rd annual edition of EAA AirVenture, "The World's Greatest Aviation Celebration," on July 25-31 at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh.
GlobalFlyer completed its 67-hour flight around the world on March 3 after logging nearly 19,880 nautical miles (22,862 statute miles) and returning to its departure airport of Salina, Kan. Fossett, an EAA member who had already been the first person to fly a balloon around the world alone, had earlier expressed his wish to bring the airplane to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. Virgin Atlantic's chairman and founder, Sir Richard Branson, proclaimed immediately after the flight that the aircraft would come to Oshkosh this summer.
"We are very excited that the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer will be part of the World's Greatest Aviation Celebration at EAA AirVenture 2005," said Tom Poberezny, EAA president and AirVenture chairman. "The achievement of this group and this airplane personifies the spirit of EAA, including passion, innovation and vision. We look forward to welcoming Steve Fossett, Sir Richard Branson and the rest of the Global Flyer team when the aircraft arrives in Oshkosh."
The airplane is scheduled to arrive on Tuesday afternoon, July 26, and remain for at least several days. It will be parked on the AeroShell Square showcase ramp at the center of the EAA AirVenture grounds.
"I've always felt close to EAA and I feel that AirVenture is the most important and significant aviation meeting in the United States, because it represents general aviation," said Fossett, who also sent the gondola from his record-breaking balloon flight to EAA AirVenture 2002 for display, just days after the historic mission. "I hope my accomplishment with GlobalFlyer will inspire other pilots to take on and achieve adventures of their own. This was something that generated a great deal of interest and showed the appeal and importance of aviation. I think many people shared in my sense of accomplishment."
The GlobalFlyer, created by renowned aircraft designer Burt Rutan and the Scaled Composites team in Mojave, Calif., was nearly flawless throughout the around-the-world flight. That did not mean the journey was without anxious moments, however. Early in the flight, indicators onboard GlobalFlyer showed that the airplane did not have as much fuel as earlier projected, putting the flight's completion in jeopardy. Fossett used outstanding fuel management and tailwinds aloft to successfully fly the airplane back to Kansas.
"The response to Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer's record attempt was so enormous, Steve and I knew that we couldn't tuck the plane away in a hangar," Branson said. "I am happy Steve will fly the airplane to Oshkosh, where I'm sure the excitement we all felt in Salina will live on."
"I am thrilled that we sere able to work together to set the last great aviation record with the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer. This world record also marks the next frontier in aviation, and the boundaries broken by the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer will revolutionize air travel."
GlobalFlyer has a 114-foot wingspan and is powered by a single Williams FJ44-3 ATW jet engine. It is capable of speeds in excess of 285 miles per hour and can fly to altitudes of 52,000 feet. GlobalFlyer's cockpit is just 7.7 feet long, just large enough for the pilot, plus food, water and personal equipment.
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The appearance (July 30 - August 1) will feature both flight demonstrations and ground displays of the aircraft, which is based at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico.