The latest news from the GlobalExplorer “Mission Control” for those of you who are following the flight that should end at Manston on Saturday night.
Since the last update it has become clear that the situation during the severe turbulence over Bhopal, India was a lot worse than first feared. At one stage Steve believe the flight was over and put on his parachute in readiness for an emergency ditching. Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer feels turbulence at 4 times the rate of a commercial aircraft. Steve feared that the aircraft was getting close to breaking up mid-air and the only choice left open to him was to eject. Luckily conditions stabilized although Steve was very shaken by the experience.
Mission Control has confirmed that Steve has sufficient fuel to cross the Pacific – the longest time flying over water during the attempt – a gruelling 16 hours of flight. Steve is experiencing the best tail winds of the journey across the Pacific, flying at 409mph, the fastest speeds yet of the journey and due to the fuel loss at take-off, much needed.
However, this will soon change shortly after Hawaii, when the jet streams fall away. The team are evaluating whether it will be best for Steve to continue on a direct route towards Florida, or to take a more southerly route via Mexico, which is longer, but allows Steve to take advantage of the tailwinds.
Commenting on Steve’s progress, Mission Control Director Kevin Stass said:
“After enduring extreme temperatures in the cockpit and severe turbulence over Bhopal in India - so severe that Steve was forced to put on his parachute in readiness for ditching - Steve has been able to enjoy the last few hours, he is taking advantage of the best tailwinds of the entire voyage as he travels over the Pacific Ocean. As Steve travels towards the coast of the US, the jet streams alter dramatically and we are presently analysing routes to determine the best option on which to approach Florida.”