In solo global odyssey, Fossett's 26,389 miles is longest nonstop flight

 - September 21, 2006, 6:39 AM

Steve Fossett saddled up the single-Williams-turbofan Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer once more and, after takeoff from the Kennedy Space Center’s 15,000-foot runway in Florida on February 8, flew for 76 hours 45 minutes before landing at Bournemouth Airport on the south coast of England–after a second crossing of the Atlantic, and after burning all but about 200 of the 18,000 pounds of jet fuel with which he had started. The flight was not without its moments: a bleed-air problem kept the cockpit temperature at 130 degrees F early on, forcing Fossett to consume more water sooner than planned. Turbulence over India was severe enough that Fossett had to contemplate the possibility of structural failure and bailing out. Shortly after his second transatlantic landfall, generator failure at 40,000 feet prompted him to declare an emergency and land 100 miles short of his intended destination at Kent International, on the last remnants of battery power and with the canopy fogged.