Fossett gets record for longest flight in history

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The Independent Online

The 61-year-old shattered the 1986 record by more than 1,000 miles when his Virgin GlobalFlyer completed a 26,084-mile flight around the world, twice crossing the Atlantic.

Fossett, who had planned to land in front of a welcoming party at Manston, Kent, declared an emergency after losing electrical power. He touched down at 5pm yesterday in Bournemouth with little fuel left.

Virgin Atlantic sponsored Fossett's purpose-built aircraft. A spokesman said Fossett had only 15 minutes to get the aircraft down after declaring the emergency. Otherwise he would have had to ditch the 35m-wingspan plane.

He said: "It is very bad luck having gone all that way with all the issues of turbulence that this has happened so close to the end. The good news is that he has broken the record for the longest non-stop flight."

Former record holders Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager took nine days to complete the continuous, non-refuelled flight in the Voyager aircraft in 1986.

Fossett left Nasa's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Wednesday. He endured sleep deprivation, high cabin temperatures and severe turbulence.

He lived on protein milkshakes and kept a parachute close to him in case a wing broke off the lightweight graphite GlobalFlyer.