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Ask OCE — February 24, 2006 — Vol. 1, Issue 5


Steve Fossett, piloting the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer broke his own record for the longest flight in aviation history after making an emergency landing on February 11th at Bournemouth Airport, in England. Fossett traveled 26,389.3 miles in 76 hours 45 minutes.

GlobalFlyer began its historic voyage from the Kennedy Space Center. The agreement between NASA and Virgin Atlantic Airways to use KSC’s Space Shuttle Landing Facility was the result of a pilot program to broaden use of the shuttles runways for non-NASA activities.

As the aircraft began to prepare for its 40,000-foot descent into Kent International Airport, GlobalFlyer experienced generator failure and a resulting large-scale electrical malfunction. Fossett opted to try to land in Bournemouth. The landing was complicated by a lack of visibility due to ice buildup on the cockpit window. He had to land the plane virtually blind, blowing out two tires in a rough landing on the tarmac.

GlobalFlyer, designed by Burt Rutan and built by Scaled Composites, Inc., is a single pilot, ultra light aircraft designed for non-stop global circumnavigation that cruises at 45,000 feet at speeds faster than 285 mph. The aircraft’s aerodynamics design process utilized computational fluid dynamics to predict how the aircraft’s surfaces would behave in flight.

GlobalFlyer employs a trimaran-like construction with twin external ‘booms’ that house the landing gear and more than two and a half tons of fuel to power the lone Williams FJ44 turbofan engine. The construction materials are all graphite/epoxy composite.

The craft has a wingspan of 114 feet and is 44.1 feet long. It has thirteen fuel tanks, an empty weight of 3,350 lbs. and a gross weight of 22,000 lbs. When fully fueled, GlobalFlyer is 83% fuel by weight.

+ Read more about GlobalFlyer.

In This Issue

Message from the Chief Engineer

A View From Outside: GlobalFlyer Pilot Breaks Own Record

This Week in NASA History: Friendship 7

Center for Project Management Research: Best of the Best

2007 NASA Budget Highlights

Building a Wise Crowd

Knowledge Base for Supersonic Transports: Langley Researchers Expand Knowledge Base for Supersonic Transports

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