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GlobalFlyer Wingtip Damaged Prior To Test Flight

Setback For Fossett's 'Ultimate Flight'

Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer
Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer

January 5, 2006 — Friday's planned repositioning flight of the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer from Salina, Kansas, to Kennedy Space Center in Florida was put on indefinite hold as the result of damage sustained to the aircraft in a collision with a fuel tank truck Wednesday. According to Virgin Atlantic, a wingtip struck the truck following fueling prior to Wednesday's planned test flight, and the damaged caused is described as "considerable."

Steve Fossett and his technical team are currently making an assessment on how long it will take to repair and retest the aircraft, so it's not known whether this would cause a delay to his planned Ultimate Flight take-off date, previously estimated as early as the beginning of February.

"This could be a real set back for 'The Ultimate Flight' record attempt," Fossett said. "Everyone involved in the record attempt is as disappointed as I am that repositioning could not take place as planned. We are currently assessing the damage for how long the repairs will take to see when we can get back on track."

Fossett's planned record flight in the GlobalFlyer, announced at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2005, would cover about 29,000 miles and take 85 to 90 hours, making it the longest ever of an aircraft or balloon. NASA announced on December 16 that the flight would launch from the Kennedy Space Center's Space Shuttle Landing Facility at Cape Canaveral, Florida.

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