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Last Updated: Saturday, 11 February 2006, 19:15 GMT
Fossett flies to non-stop record
Steve Fossett was helped from his plane by emergency services staff

Adventurer Steve Fossett has broken the record for the longest non-stop flight in aviation history, landing in dramatic fashion after power failure.

Fossett, 61, took the record as he flew over Shannon in Ireland. In total he has flown 26,389.3 miles around the globe since lift-off on Wednesday.

Generator failure as he descended to Kent prompted him to make a mayday call and divert to Bournemouth.

On landing with limited visibility, two tyres burst, but Fossett was unhurt.

He had planned to end his journey at Kent International Airport.

Fossett said: "It was too exciting a finish."

After a medical check-up, he then flew from Bournemouth to Kent, arriving about 1835GMT in his private jet with Sir Richard Branson, sponsor of the project.

Fossett said: "It was a difficult flight. I was lucky to make it to the end."

He said he realised it was a serious situation when the generator light went on, prompting him and his ground crew to begin emergency procedures.

The ending was one of three times during the attempt that Fossett ran into trouble.

He said that during his take-off in Florida, "I had to pull up with all my might" to get the plane in the air before running out of runway. And severe turbulence over India "almost broke the plane apart".

But he said the record was an important one to him and he had wanted to do it for a long time.

Chief executive of Virgin Atlantic, Steve Ridgeway, said the generator failure had meant that Fossett had only about 15 minutes to land the Virgin GlobalFlyer.

"The plane wouldn't have made it to Manston [Kent International Airport].

Steve Fossett, right, is congratulated by Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson
Sir Richard Branson, Virgin boss, welcomes Fossett

"And we couldn't risk him ditching the aircraft. So it was essential to get him on the ground."

Mr Ridgeway said the last-minute problems did not detract from the achievement.

"So a bit of a sad end, not getting him into Manston, but there's no doubt that the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer has acquitted itself admirably to at least get itself into Bournemouth, and he's safe on the ground."

Fossett flew 26,389.3 miles non-stop, breaking the aeroplane distance record of 24,987 miles.

Record distance

He landed shortly after 1700 GMT after 76 hours and 45 minutes in the cockpit.

He eclipsed the distance record set by Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager, who logged 40,212km (24,987 miles) during a non-stop, non-refuelled trip around the globe in their Voyager aircraft in 1986.

Fossett's record attempt suffered a potential setback when the plane lost 4% of its fuel during takeoff from Florida.

Mission engineers had warned that it would be touch and go to whether there was sufficient fuel.

Fossett already has 109 records to his name, in many sporting fields.

The aviator holds the record for flying solo around the globe in a balloon and for being the first person to circle the globe solo in a plane without stopping or refuelling.

Are you there? Did you see Fossett land? Send us your eyewitness accounts and if you have images send them to yourpics@bbc.co.uk.

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