Globalflyer Took Off

For the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer and its pilot Steve Fossett to set a world record for the first solo, non-stop, non-refuelled circumnavigation of the world they will have to follow a strict set of rules laid down by the governing body of aviation record attempts, the Federation Aeronautique Internationale.

In actual fact, as Guinness World Records pointed out to us, the fact that it’s a ‘first’ doesn’t in itself make it a record. Therefore, Steve will have to do the circumnavigation faster and higher than any others in order to take an official record. All in all, we think there are at least 3 and possibly up to 7 different records that could be broken with this single flight. We’ll let you know more about which ones when we’ve researched them all through!

The FAI’s rules state that a record attempt like this must start and finish at the same airfield and cross all meridians of the globe. What’s more the course must not be less than the very precise figure of 36,787.559 kilometres (around 23,000 miles) which is equal in length to the Tropic of Cancer. To allow the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer to catch the vital jet stream winds, the FAI rules don’t oblige that record attempts follow the imaginary line of the Tropic itself but simply that the distance flown exceeds it.

That doesn’t mean, however, that Steve Fossett could fly across the Poles. The course must also be kept away from the North and South “Frigid Zones”, defined as being at latitudes of over 66degrees33minutes.

With the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer capable of speeds of over 250 knots (285mph) the flight should be completed inside 80 hours. The route will begin from an airfield in mid-Western United States and will then follow the jet stream winds across the Atlantic to the UK. From there Steve will head south-east across the Mediterranean and the Gulf before turning east towards Pakistan, India, China and Japan. The final leg of the journey will take the plane out over the Pacific towards Hawaii before crossing the west coast of the US and returning to its launch site.

In the course of the epic journey Steve should fly over or near the following major cities: Montreal, London, Paris, Rome, Cairo, Bahrain, Karachi, Calcutta, Shanghai, Tokyo, Honolulu and Los Angeles. He will also cross major flight routes, meaning that keen-eyed passengers on commercial airliners may be able to spot the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer as it flies several miles above them at around 45,000 feet

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