Fossett takes to the skies

As PlayStation crew await strong winds

Friday February 7th 2003, Author: Stuart Radnovsky, Location: United States
As his 125ft racing catamaran rides at dock in Cadiz awaiting a powerful weather system to propel him and his crew on their planned East-West TransAtlantic sailing record attempt, American adventurer and aviator Steve Fossett twice took to the skies Wednesday - to achieve an extraordinary double record success, shattering the speed marks for U.S. TransContinental passages for both non-military jet and for unlimited turbo-prop aircraft.

Leaving San Diego, California early Wednesday at the controls of his Citation X twin-engined jet, Fossett and regular co-pilot Doug Travis (USA) took brilliant advantage of winter westerly winds to achieve a new fastest-ever continental crossing by any non-military jet - reaching Charleston, South Carolina in just 2 hrs 56 mins 20 seconds - an average speed of 726.83 mph (1169.73 kph) - breaking Steve's own 3 year-old mark of 693.14 mph (1115.51 kph).

Without waiting to avail themselves of Charleston's famous southern hospitality, Steve and Doug streaked back to San Diego, where Steve joined his old friend Joe Ritchie (USA) in the cockpit of Ritchie's Piaggio Avanti twin turbo-prop.

With Ritchie as pilot and Fossett as co-pilot, the pair flew the same course, reaching Charleston before midnight - in just 3 hrs 51min 52 secs - an average speed of 546.44 miles per hour (879.46 kph)- and a huge improvement over the previous record set in 1986 by General Chuck Yeager and Renald Davenport on a course from Los Angeles to New York at 454.79 mph/731.92 kph.

Steve Fossett: " What a day! We managed to make the first non-military aircraft flight across the continent in under 3 hours and the first turboprop crossing in under 4 hours. Plus we got to break Chuck Yeager's turbo record by over 100 mph. I'm going to sleep well tonight."

In addition to the new coast-to-coast marks, Wednesday's flights set new segment records from Dallas to Atlanta - 733 mph in the Citation X, and 577 mph in the Piaggio.

(All records pending ratification by the National Aeronautics Association)

All of Steve Fossett's adventure challenges - are supported by Michelob ULTRA, the new low-carbohydrate premium beer from Anheuser-Busch - the world's largest brewer.

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