Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Answer: Starter/Generator problem from Ultimate Flight

During The Ultimate Flight, Steve's last record, there was a problem with the starter/generator. This is a direct-drive unit installed by Scaled Composites, the manufacturer of GlobalFlyer. Williams International produces the engine and allows the manufacturer to install their choice of starter/generators.

The problematic unit from The Ultimate Flight was replaced with a new part instead of an overhauled part.

More on the problem from John Karkow, Scaled Composites:

Prime Meridian Reached

The GlobalFlyer is now crossing the Prime Meridian. This is the "zero" line of longitude.

K-State's Victory Songs

Alma mater
The alma mater, selected in a campus contest in 1903, was written by Humphrey W. Jones, class of 1888. His original song was later altered by changing “KSAC” (for Kansas State Agricultural College) to “KSU.” Here are the lyrics:

I know a spot that I love full well,
'Tis not in forest nor yet in dell;
Ever it holds me with magic spell,
I think of thee, Alma Mater.

KSU, we'll carry thy banner high.
KSU, long, long may thy colors fly.
Loyal to thee, thy children will swell the cry.
Hail, hail, hail, Alma Mater.

Fight song
"Wildcat Victory" was written in 1927 by Harry E. Erickson '27. Here are the lyrics:

Fight, you K-State Wildcats
For Alma Mater fight-fight-fight!
Glory in the combat
For the purple and the white.

Faithful to our colors
We will ever be,
Fighting ever fighting for a
Wildcat victory!

Go State!

K-State has purple pride

K-State's School Color:

K-State’s official color—royal purple—was chosen in 1896 by two representatives from each class, but it wasn't approved by the faculty until 1921. Surprising fact: Purple is K-State’s only official color, even though it’s commonly paired with white or gray.

Never under estimate the power of purple!!!!


Steve's Position

Steve has now crossed into Mali, Africa, one of the largest countries in West Africa.

Flight Data:
Lat: N21.35019
Long: W3.58625
Altitude: 46433 ft
Speed: 350 kt
Heading: 89.70°
Elapsed Time

Answer: Fuel, Fuel, Fuel

In response to the numerous questions about GlobalFlyer's fuel system:

At takeoff the GlobalFlyer had 18,300 lbs of fuel on board.

The Williams International F.J.44-3ATW burns 295 lbs/hr. and will eventually slow fuel consumption to about 100 lbs/hr. as the flight progresses.

GlobalFlyer utilizes JP4 in the wing tanks and JP8 in the boom tanks. JP4 has better cold operation characteristics and it will take longer to gel. This is optimal for use in the wing tanks, as the fuel will be exposed to extremely cold temperatures at high altitude. The JP8 is used in the boom tanks and it is a highly refined fuel. JP8 was used instead of JET A because of the increased fuel density. This allowed more fuel to be placed in the boom tanks, increasing the distance the aircraft can fly.

More details on what Steve will eat during this flight.

Steve took 12 pounds of water, 3 pounds of lemon-lime Gatorade, and 24 cans of French Vanilla diet milkshakes.

Steve reaches filed cruise altitude!

Steve has just reached FL450! (Flight Level 450, or 45,000')

The initial climb took just over 15.5 hours.

The altitude displayed on the website is a GPS derived altitude. The Pressure Altitude read from inside the cockpit is slightly less than what is displayed on the website. The difference in the readouts is due to temperature and air pressure.

Answer: What does Steve eat?

Steve has packaged nutritional shakes and water on board. He has been on a liquid diet to prepare for this record attempt.

Flight Data:
Lat: N20.89024
Long: W9.48314
Altitude: 46085 ft
Speed: 365 kt
Heading: 83.00°
Elapsed Time

Answer: Are we tired in Mission Control?

We all agree, if Steve can do it...So can we. Being in Mission Control is a very extraordinary experience.

Mission Controllers and the Web Update Team are set up on alternate shifts to prevent fatigue. What we experience is nothing compared to what Steve will experience.

Answer: Does Steve have anything to listen to?

The only sounds Steve can hear are the engine noise and an alarm used for short power naps. According to Mission Controller Nancy Milleret, Steve was offered a CD player but declined because it would add to weight.

Anytime you add weight to the aircraft, also known as "Payload", you must ALSO add fuel to carry it.

There is also a Satellite phone on board to keep Steve in touch with Mission Control in Salina, Kansas, as well as Scaled Composites in Mojave, California.

Entering Mauritania

The GlobalFlyer has reached Mauritania, Africa. Go Steve, Go!

Flight Data:
Lat: N20.68396
Long: W13.21130
Altitude: 45778 ft
Speed: 317 kt
Heading: 142.10°
Elapsed Time

Answer: Viewing Steve's arrival

Steve should arrive mid-day Friday. The Salina Airport Authority is handling questions regarding public viewing areas.
Click Here:
Salina Airport Authority

Answer: Where do the Global Weather Forecasts come from?

Mission Control's weather is provided by David Dehenauw, a meteorologist in Belguim. He provides up to the minute forecasts of winds aloft, graphs, charts, and weather reports periodically throughout the day.

Here is a sample of a winds aloft chart:

Photo link updated

The previous blog link for in-flight photos was incorrect. The link has been republished. Thank you for your input. That link can be found here: http://www.globalflyer.com/Press/Pictures/index.jsp

Steve makes landfall

Steve has successfully crossed the Atlantic! He is now crossing over Western Sahara.

Current Flight Data:
Lat: N23.37772
Long: W15.53674
Altitude: 45375 ft
Speed: 311 kt
Heading: 140.20°
Elapsed Time

Answer: What does Composite construction mean?

Until recent developments, most aircraft were constructed using Aluminum. With new technology, Composite materials are quickly replacing Aluminum bodies in the new generation of aircraft.

Composites are materials combining two or more organic or inorganic components. One material serves as a "matrix," which is the material that holds everything together, while the other material serves as a reinforcement, in the form of fibers embedded in the matrix. Until recently, the most common matrix materials were "thermosetting" materials such as epoxy, bismaleimide, or polyimide. The reinforcing materials can be glass fiber, boron fiber, carbon fiber, or other more exotic mixtures.

The GlobalFlyer utilizes a carbon fiber skin on most surfaces.

For more information about the plane, go to http://www.sal.k-state.edu/globalflyer/theplane.htm

Steve calls Mission Control

Steve called to coordinate further with Mission Control in preparation for his entry into African airspace, which will occur shortly.

Estimated return to Salina

Many of you are still posting questions about Steve's return to Salina. We are projecting a mid-day Friday return of GlobalFlyer (Central Standard Time). Keep checking back for the latest updates on the progress of the flight.

Current Stats:
Lat: N26.62212
Long: W20.22120
Altitude: 44,749 ft
Groundspeed: 321 knots
Heading: 122.70°
Elapsed Time

Answer: How many fuel tanks are there on the GlobalFlyer?

There are 13 fuel tanks on the GlobalFlyer.

With 13 fuel tanks, getting the fuel to where it’s needed, while maintaining the balance and stability of the aircraft, requires constant supervision and monitoring. Each of the plane’s two booms has two tanks that also take up some of the space in the inner sections of the wings. Each outer wing section holds four fuel tanks. The last tank is situated behind Steve in the main fuselage, and this is the tank that feeds the engine. Valves are used to control the fuel flow from the outer sections of the wings to the boom tanks, from which it is then pumped into the tank below the engine.

For more information go to http://www.sal.k-state.edu/globalflyer/theplane.htm

Steve contacts Mission Control

Steve called Mission control to coordinate his entry into African airspace, which will occur within an hour.

Current Flight Data:

Lat: N27.65738
Long: W22.10645
Altitude: 44,387 ft
Groundspeed: 325 knots
Heading: 121.40°
Elapsed Time

Steve's Position

Steve is still over the Atlantic Ocean climbing through 43,952 feet at a groundspeed of 322 knots.

Lat: N29.42253
Long: W25.53843
Heading: 121.00°
Elapsed Time

Answer: Has the GlobalFlyer encountered turbulence?

We have had this question arise: has the GlobalFlyer encountered turbulence on this flight?

Up to this point, Steve has reported no abnormal turbulence. We will keep you posted, and let you know if that observation changes.

Steve's Position

Steve is over the Atlantic Ocean cruising at 333 knots Altitude 43,282 feet Outside temperature -58F.

Lat: N30.63078
Long: W28.06552
Heading: 117.60°
Elapsed Time

Steve's Position

Steve is currently over the Atlantic Ocean

Lat: N33.36478
Long: W34.93262
Altitude: 42,994 feet
Groundspeed: 330 knots
Heading: 114.40°
Elapsed Time

Steve's start/stop point

We had one inquiry regarding the point that Steve's attempt actually began. Steve worked out a waypoint with the FAI (Fédération Aéronautique Internationale) that serves as his start and stop point for the flight. This waypoint, created specifically for the attempt, and named WLDCT in honor of K-State, is several miles South of the airport. Therefore, Steve does not need to takeoff and land from the same runway at Salina Municipal Airport in order to complete the record.

Takeoff Video Available

GlobalFlyer takeoff video feed is now available on the K-State at Salina GlobalFlyer web site.
The video's can be accessed at this site.

Mission Control updates Steve's position

Mission control reported Steve's position over the Atlantic to ARINC, who will relay the information to the proper agencies. The next position report will occur in approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes.

Current Stats:
Lat: N34.87052
Long: W39.55851
Altitude: 42,467 feet
Groundspeed: 350 knots
Heading: 111.30°
Elapsed Time

GlobalFlyer photos

We received a request for some in-flight photographs of GlobalFlyer. Because there was no chase plane for this attempt, the best photographs are still available on the GlobalFlyer website:

Thank you to our German friend for the suggestions!

ATC feeds

Unfortunately, live feeds of Steve's Air Traffic Control (ATC) transmissions will not be available on the web.

Steve's projected arrival

Many people have requested information about when we are expecting Steve to return. At the current time, we are expecting Steve to arrive back in Salina mid-day on Friday.


We received a request to explain some of the terminology that we use on this blog.

In some posts we have used the abbreviation kts. This is an abbreviation for knots, or nautical miles per hour.

One nautical mile equals:

1.852 kilometers
1.15 statute miles

Steve's position

Steve is over the Atlantic Ocean heading toward Western Sahara Estimated Time to reach Western Sahara is 9:30 Central time 3:30 UTC time.

Lat: N40.11134
Long: W44.37210
Altitude: 40,905 feet
Groundspeed: 344 knots
Heading: 144.20°

Steve's course

Steve is headed south towards Western Sahara

Lat: N41.89194
Long: W46.09854
Altitude: 40,587 feet
Groundspeed: 340 knot
Heading: 142.50°

Answer: Why is GlobalFlyer flying east?

The GlobalFlyer is flying to the East to take advantage of the jet stream. The jet stream is a core of fast streaming wind that generally flows from West to East. By flying in and near the jet stream, Steve can add to his ground speed. Although he moves through the air at a constant rate, because the air in the jet stream is moving with him also, his speed across the ground can be greatly increased. A simplified view of this effect is that the wind in the jet stream is in a sense "pushing" Steve along. This can greatly increase fuel efficiency, in relation to distance covered over the ground, which allows Steve to fly such a long distance on so little fuel. The jet stream can reach upwards of 200 miles per hour at times.

Example: If you are flying in an airplane at 200 miles per hour, and the wind is pushing you from behind at 100 miles per hour, then your groundspeed would be 300 miles per hour.
The converse is true also. If you are flying in your airplane at 200 miles per hour, and the wind is blowing at you from the front at 100 miles per hour, then your groundspeed would be only 100 miles per hour.

When you grasp the concept of airspeed versus groundspeed, it becomes easy to understand why Steve is flying to the East.

Steve's position

Steve is still on course over the Atlantic Ocean.

Lat: N44.04987
Long: W48.35372
Altitude: 40,158 feet
Groundspeed: 335 knots
Heading: 142.10°

Answer: Be a Pilot

We got a e-mail asking how long it takes to be a pilot.

The answer can vary; Some people take as little as a month, others need more time because of the hours they need, cost, and personal motivation.
The average time is usually 6 months to 1 year.

Second call to ARINC

Mission control is making the second call to ARINC with Steve's position. ARINC is a company which relays positions over the ocean.

Position: over the Atlantic
Speed: 336 knots
Altitude: 39,833 feet

More on fuel

According to Scaled Composites, who is tracking aircraft technical data, the fuel situation appears to be normal at this point. They have no indication of any fuel loss as of yet.

Call from Steve

Mission control received a second call from Steve. According to him, cabin temperature is 57 degrees F. He checked in with mission control, and said hello to his wife.

Position: over Atlantic Ocean
Ground Speed: 330 knots
Altitude: 39,741 feet

Flying over the Atlantic Ocean

Steve is now over the Atlantic Ocean.

Ground Speed: 325 knots
Altitude: 39,606 feet

Reporting on Steve's progress

Mission Control just called ARINC, with the first update on Steve's position. ARINC (an abbreviation for Aeronautical Radio Incorporated), is a company that relays positions over the oceans to International Air traffic authorities.

Steve is leaving Newfoundland.

Speed: 322 knots
Altitude: 39,599 feet

Answer: Fuel

Many of you have asked about the fuel leak that happened during the previous missions. At this point, we have had no reports as to whether or not there has been any loss of fuel.

Tracking Steve

After GlobalFlyer passes the Gander VOR (Very High Frequency Omni-range) point, near Gander, Newfoundland, Mission Control will call AIRINC in New York to give them position reports. AirInc will then relay the information to the agencies that control international air traffic. AirInc will update Steve's position because radar will not be available for portions of the flight over the Atlantic.

Answer: How much fuel does Steve plan on using?

The GlobalFlyer plans on using well over 16,000 pounds of fuel this flight.

Steve is over Newfoundland

Steve has entered Newfoundland

Airspeed: 312 knots
Altitude: 39,668 feet

Steve nears Newfoundland

Currently, Steve is off of the Western coast of Newfoundland.

Airspeed: 318 knots
Altitude 39,515 feet.

Answer: How to convert times

There has been some questions as to how you convert "Kansas Time" (Central Standard Time) to Universal Coordinated Time. Suppose the time in Salina, Kan. is 7:00 a.m. To convert that time to UTC you simply add six hours. Therefore 7:00 a.m. is also 13:00 UTC.

Community Access Information

Community Access TV plans to re-air the video footage of the takeoff every fifteen minutes during prime time tonight (5-8pm) on Salina cable channel 19. In between re-airing of the takeoff, Ch. 19 will show the live video feed from Mission Control.

Answer: About the engine

The engine manufacturer is Williams International, and the model is F.J.44-3ATW.
We will include the information about the fuel consumption rate at later time.

Answer calling: Knots -> MPH

Knots can be converted to MPH by multiplying by 1.152.
For example, 317 knots is 365 MPH (317 x 1.152 = 365.2)

GlobalFlyer Models

We had an inquiry about GlobalFlyer models, and where they can be purchased. Unfortunately, we know of no company that is making models of GlobalFlyer at this time.

Live Stats

Live stats are now available on the K-State at Salina GlobalFlyer main web page www.salina.k-state.edu/globalflyer.

Passing Montreal

Steve is currently north of Montreal with a current speed of 317 knots at 37,230 feet.

Some have asked about the map on the screen in Mission Control. This is a subscription service provided by Blue Sky Network. www.blueskynetwork.com

The map that they are providing for free is also available at www.salina.k-state.edu/globalflyer.

Climbing over Canada

Steve is now North of Ottawa, Canada.

Ground Speed: 328 knots
Altitude: 36, 948 feet

Steve should reach his cruising altitude of 45,000 feet just west of the African coast.

Keep refreshing this page, as new updates will arrive every few minutes.

Steve's Flight Plan

Many of you asked for it, and here it is: This is a map of Steve's flight plan. This map will be posted shortly on the main K-State at Salina GlobalFlyer page.

It's cold up there

He is flying over Newmarket, Ontario at 339 knots at 36,515 feet. The temperature at that altitude is -41 degrees Celsius. Because it is so cold, Steve has turned on supplemental electric heat.

Call from Steve

Mission control has just spoken with Steve and everything is going very well.

Steve has crossed over London, Ontario

Steve has crossed over London Ontario, flying at 328 knots at 38,842 feet.

Takeoff Pictures

Steve has crossed into Canada

Steve is now over Windsor in Southern Canada, Flying at 344 knots at 36,163 feet.

Steve's Flight Path

Right now, Steve is over Southern Michigan, traveling at 367 knots at 35,430 feet. His flight path will take him further Northeast to Gander, Newfoundland where he will make a turn to a more Southerly direction. After a trip over the Atlantic, Steve will make landfall over Western Africa.

Steve's Flight Plan

Due to many requests, we will soon be posting Steve's flight plan on the main K-State at Salina GlobalFlyer web page www.salina.k-state.edu/globalflyer shortly.

Real-time flight data

We will have real-time flight data up later this morning. Until then, you can find up to the minute updates on the K-State at Salina GlobalFlyer Blog, and also on the ticker on the main page. You will have to click your browser's refresh button in order to get the most current information.

Steve nears the Chicago area

Steve is currently just South of the Chicago Metro area. He is traveling 348 knots at 34,536 feet. His flight path will take him further North toward the Detroit area.

Live Video Feed

For the Salina Public, there is a live feed for Mission Control:
Salina Community access, Cable Channel 19

There is also a live web-cast at: www.salina.k-state.edu/globalflyer

Position Report

Steve nears the Iowa border at 307 knots and 30,548 feet

There were about 2,000 people around the Salina airport for the takeoff.

Position Update

Steve is currently north of Kansas City in route to the Chicago area.
Current speed: 309 knots. Altitude: 28410 feet.

Answers to e-mail questions

Many of you have been submitting questions via our link to mission control. We will take a minute to answer a few of these questions.
  • Steve had 12,300 feet of available runway for takeoff.
  • Unofficially, there was approximately 1,000 ft remaining at liftoff.
  • The official takeoff time was 12:38:37 Zulu time (6:38:37 local).
  • The flight is projected to last over 78 hours.
  • The filed cruising altitude is FL 450 (45,000 feet).
  • Video of the takeoff will be available on the K-State at Salina GlobalFlyer website

Video of the takeoff

Video of the takeoff is available currently on the GlobalFlyer webcast.

Steve is on course

Steve is currently Southeast of Manhattan, Kansas. He is climbing through 17,490 ft. at 229 knots.

Lift Off

Successful takeoff. Steve just lifted off from runway 17 and will be turning left on course.

Takeoff Roll

Steve has begun takeoff roll.


Engine is started as takeoff time approaches.

Clearance Given

Runway 17 at Salina Municipal Airport is now open.

Steve has been given clearance from Salina to Salina via his filed route.

Steve is cleared for takeoff!

Slight Delay

As Steve makes his final ground checks, there will be a 15 minute delay of the takeoff.

Track the Flight

Follow Steve's flight and track him on the website: www.salina.k-state.edu/globalflyer/

Steve is in the plane and we are awaiting takeoff.

Final Load-out

Steve is making his final checks and preparing to enter the cockpit.

Weather conditions are excellent and final take-off calculations have been made.

What is a closed circuit?

A "closed circuit" is a course around turn points that is measured from the start point with a return to the start point.
Mission Control is relatively quiet as we await news.
Steve is heading out to the plane.

Preflight Briefing is complete

Steve's Preflight Briefing is complete. Steve and the ground crew will be heading out to the aircraft shortly.

Steve Fossett arrives in Mission Control

Steve has arrived in Mission Control and is conducting a preflight briefing with all essential Mission Control Staff.

Mission Control is active

It is early morning in Salina, and activity is resuming in Mission Control in preparation for Steve's Flight.