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Last Updated: Monday, 6 December, 2004, 11:08 GMT
Kansas start for Virgin attempt
Virgin GlobalFlyer in the air (Image: Virgin GlobalFlyer)
The jet has a 34.5m (114ft) wingspan
The jet plane in which US adventurer Steve Fossett plans to fly non-stop around the world without refuelling is set for launch in January from Kansas.

The US state's Salina Municipal Airport has one of the longest runways in North America at 12,300ft (3,750m).

Plenty of take-off room is seen as a must for the Virgin GlobalFlyer craft which will be heavily laden with fuel.

It is hoped the record bid, which will head east around the globe, will be completed successfully within 80 hours.

Steve Fossett said: "Salina's location in the middle of the USA is a major advantage.

"If I run out of fuel in the last thousand miles, I will be able to glide to a safe landing in any airport in Western USA.

"If I had chosen a West Coast airport, I would risk ditching in the Pacific if I run out of fuel near the end of the round the world flight."

Virgin GlobalFlyer is powered by a single turbofan Williams FJ44-3 ATW jet engine.

It has been designed by aviation pioneer Burt Rutan, the man behind the first private spacecraft, SpaceShipOne.

His company, Scaled Composites, was also responsible for designing Voyager, a two-person aircraft that set the record for the challenge in 1986.

On that occasion Burt Rutan's 66-year-old brother, Dick, was one of the pilots, along with Jeana Yeager.

But Fossett will fly solo - and in a jet as a opposed to a propeller-driven vehicle.

GlobalFlyer's composite materials are ultra light. Its booms will carry the fuel, making up 82% of the craft's body weight, which totals 10,000kg (22,000lbs).

The aircraft will fly at 45,000ft (14km) and travel 25,000 miles (40,000km) at speeds in excess of 250 knots (285 mph, 440 km/h). GlobalFlyer will fly 75% further than the range record for jet-powered planes.

SpaceShipOne rockets to success
04 Oct 04 |  Science/Nature
Burt Rutan: Aviation pioneer
17 Jun 04 |  Science/Nature
Hopes soar for solo record plane
14 Aug 04 |  Science/Nature
Testing begins for global plane
12 Mar 04 |  Science/Nature
Wraps come off solo record plane
08 Jan 04 |  Science/Nature


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