Archive for February, 2006

GlobalFlyer II takes flight

Well, the GlobalFlyer II finally took to the air this morning after seven am while we looked on, shivering. It was quite cold waiting out there for the take off, at least for us Floridians. Everything was announced over the loud speakers so we knew what was happening, like when the GlobalFlyer II’s engines were started, and when the official from the FAA placed the seals on the hatch. It was all very exciting. We were positioned at the shuttle midfield landing site which is approximatley halfway down the landing strip. The GlobalFlyer screamed past us still on the ground and ate up so much runway before it took to the air that it was well past us. Still, it was very neat to be a part of this potentially historic event. Click on the picture to enlarge. My picture isn’t the best, but it was all that my frozen little fingers could take at that point!

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The curse of KSC

I should have known that any vehicle destined to launch or take off from Kennedy Space Center would be subject to delays, and the Virgin Atlantic Global Flyer II was no exception. This morning before sunrise we were out at the Shuttle midfield viewing area poised and ready to watch the GlobalFlyer take off the 15,000 foot runway. Unfortunately, the take off was scrubbed due to unfavorable winds and a small fuel leak.

While we were out there in the dark waiting, my friend Julie and I tried to edge closer where we would be able to get a better view, and Julie grabbed my arm and said “There he is!” I was like “What, who?” and she said “I don’t know- it’s that guy I saw on Oprah!” It was Richard Branson, of Virgin Atlantic, and the TV show “The Rebel Billionaire,” standing right in front of us. It was shortly thereafter that it was announced that the flight was scrubbed for the day, and we all left. The photo above is of all the cars leaving the site and a bunch of the news vans parked to cover the event.

According to the website, virginatlanticglobalflyer.com, the next attempt is scheduled for tomorrow morning between 6:41 and 7:06 am. Rest assured I will be there!

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Virgin Atlantic Global Flyer II

Working at the space center can have its advantages. I was lucky enough to score a pass to view the GlobalFlyer II takeoff, scheduled for tomorrow morning at first light. If you are not familiar with the GlobalFlyer II, it is an aircraft built to try to fly farther than any other aircraft ever has, non stop. From the website, virginatlanticglobalflyer.com:

..NASA’s Kennedy Space Center will be the launch site for “The Ultimate Flight,” which will see Steve Fossett pilot the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer aircraft in order to set the record for the longest flight of all time. Steve Fossett – aviation’s most prolific record breaker – will fly over 700 miles further than any aircraft or balloon has flown…

I am pretty excited to get go to the big event and will definitely be bringing my camera. Hopefully I will get a few good shots to post tomorrow.

Some interesting facts about the GlobalFlyer II:

  • Steve Fossett, the pilot, is planning to fly the plane 26,084 miles in about 80 hours.
  • Fully loaded, the Global Flyer II carries more than 18,000 pounds of fuel and the aircraft is 83% fuel by weight.
  • The GlobalFlyer II is powered by a single slightly modified Citation Jet 2 engine (which I actually used to work on when I was an aircraft mechanic).
  • The aircraft is equipped with two autopilots to allow the pilot some limited sleep periods and to take human error out of the planned route.

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