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Last Updated: Sunday, 12 June 2005, 12:25 GMT 13:25 UK
Final plans for historic flight
Steve Fossett and the replica Vimy
Steve Fossett hopes to recreate the first transatlantic crossing
The final plans to recreate the first non-stop transatlantic flight are taking place in Newfoundland.

American adventurer Steve Fossett and co-pilot Mark Rebholz aim to fly a replica of a Vickers Vimy to Ireland.

They will follow the 1919 route of pilots John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown from Lester's Field to Clifden, Connemara in a 20 hour journey.

A spokeswoman for the duo said a weather window had been spotted for next weekend.

The pair have pencilled in the date of 19 June for take-off.

Some 20 hours later it is hoped the bi-plane, escorted by the Irish Air Corps, will touch down at the Ballyconneely golf links.

However, the exact date of departure of the wood and fabric, open cockpit craft will be determined by favourable conditions.

The spokeswoman said weather conditions were vital due to the lack of instruments onboard while co-pilot Rebholz will be navigating using the moon and stars.

"They cannot take off in adverse conditions because the especially long wings could tip to the ground and crash the plane," she said.

Replica Vickers Vimy
The flight in the replica will take about 20 hours

"And the speed of take off is also problematic, because the plane will average a mere 45mph, taking them over an hour to ascend to 1500ft.

"If there is heavy cloud cover, they can only soar to 5000ft at an average speed of 75mph. Mark needs to be able to see the sky in order to take readings."

The RNLI and Grand Prix yacht Patches, owned by Eamonn O'Coinneann from Cleggan, Ireland's Admiral's Cup entry, will lead a flotilla of yachts entering the harbour at Clifden.

During the original flight there were strong tail winds and thick cloud cover, which meant Alcock and Brown confused the sea for the horizon leaving the pair perilously close to the ocean waves at times.

The pilots will be flying over shipping channels because the low altitude at which they will fly at and the absence of radar on board.

Should the plane ditch in the sea it is hoped they will never be more than one hour from a ship.

Aviator Fossett holds world records in five activities - balloons, sailboats, gliders, airships and powered aircraft.

Rebholz was the test pilot of the Vimy certification programme, flies vintage aircraft for fun, and is a Boeing 747-400 Captain with United Airlines.

The replica Vimy previously flew a 15,000-mile journey from England to Australia in 1994, and five years later recreated the original 1920 London to South Africa flight.

The Vickers Vimy was designed as a WWI bomber.

Both flights, like the Atlantic attempt, were sponsored by National Geographic magazine.

Just after the war, Vimys made three historic "first flights", inspiring the development of long-distance aviation - the first transatlantic flight in 1919, the first England to Australia flight the same year, and the first England (London) to South Africa (Cape Town) flight in 1920.

Prize flights: Making aviation history
20 Jun 04 |  Science/Nature
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Profile: Steve Fossett
03 Mar 05 |  Americas


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