How does one measure the success of an airplane designer?
No offense intended to its participants, but aviation progress by the 1980s had become rather mundane by comparison with the incessant leaps and bounds of previous decades. Maybe it was a matter of butting up against the realities of aviation’s maturity, or maybe it was simply a product of the funk enveloping the west at the start of the 1980s.
After providing corporate jet charter, maintenance, management and brokerage for more than 30 years, Atlantic Aviation Flight Services was sold last month to Voyager Group, a holding company whose properties include Yellowstone Jet Center in Bozeman, Mont., and Voyager Jet Center in West Mifflin, Pa.
In preparation for his solo nonstop around-the-world (ATW) flight tentatively scheduled for January, adventurer and solo ATW balloonist Steve Fossett has begun familiarization flights in the single-engine Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer in Mojave, Calif., following a number of envelope expansion flights by Scaled Composites project engineer and test pilot Jon Karkow.
Mojave, Calif.-based Scaled Composites recently modified the Virgin Atlantic-sponsored GlobalFlyer with fuel jettison capability at the request of pilot Steve Fossett, who is scheduled to fly the single-engine Williams FJ44-powered aircraft solo around the world nonstop without refueling sometime after January 4.
“LAST BIG PLUM” REVISITED–Burt Rutan and the Voyager team in 1986 described their quest to fly around the world nonstop and unrefueled as “the last big plum” in the orchard of aviation records. In 1999 Messrs. Piccard and Jones, similarly, characterized their ultimately successful circumnavigation of the world in the Breitling Orbiter balloon as “the last great aeronautical adventure.”