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2 March - Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer Update - Steve Fossett Takes Crucial Decision to Continue on His Round-the-World Flight.

SALINA, Kan. -- The Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer Mission Control has announced that, based on the information provided by the Mission Control team, Steve Fossett has decided to continue his round-the-world record attempt at least as far as Hawaii. Once Steve reaches Hawaii he will take the next critical decision on whether he will continue onto California. The Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer is expected to approach Hawaii around 20:40CST (02:40UTC).

The jetstreams are currently extremely strong, averaging speeds of 100knots. The Pacific Ocean leg to Hawaii will provide Steve with the strongest tailwinds on his journey, providing the much-needed speed required to bring the record attempt back within Steve's grasp. The team at Mission Control will spend the next six hours monitoring the strength of the winds between Hawaii and the coast of California which currently according to information supplied by Chief Meteorologist David Dehenauw show a worrying deterioration from 100knots to just under 40knots.

Steve has completed the process of draining the fuel from the two tip tanks and is part way through draining the fuel from the four mid tanks. The third process will be draining the four outer tanks which should be completed around the time Steve reaches Hawaii. This will give the team an accurate account of exactly how much fuel the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer is carrying. All fuel predictions to date have been based on the assumption that all of these tanks were full on take off, based on the weight taken by independent bodies (FAI and NAA) just prior to Steve embarking on his historic journey, currently on this basis the remaining fuel onboard the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer is approximately 4,500lbs. Steve is currently operating the aircraft at its maximum efficiency level in terms of fuel burn.

When asked how confident he was, Steve Fossett, said:

"Confident is not the right word, I would say it is more like hopeful. If the fuel successfully drains from the other fuel tanks then I will start to feel confident!"

Richard Branson, chairman of Virgin Atlantic said:

"I am confident that Steve can get to Hawaii and then we will need to review it when he gets there. It is too soon for any confidence that Steve will make it the whole way around. Both Steve and I have tackled the Pacific before on our ballooning attempts and we learnt many times never to underestimate this ocean

"Steve is flying solo but he is certainly not on his own. A lot of people are supporting Steve with invaluable data and expert advice at the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer Mission Control but ultimately only Steve can make this decision once he reaches Hawaii. So let's get Steve safely to Hawaii and then we will see what we will see."

An update will be issued as soon as more information becomes available.
CURRENT FACTS AND FIGURES
-------------------------

TIME (central US): 13:00pm CST

ELAPSED JOURNEY TIME: 42 hours 14 minutes

DISTANCE COVERED: 13,675nm/ 15,726miles

VAGF POSITION: Flying at 45,200 feet,
 flying over the Pacific

SPEED: 350 knots /400 mph (ground speed)

FLIGHT SUMMARY: Since our press conference at
 08:00(CST) this morning Steve has
 embarked upon the Pacific Ocean
 leg of his journey

 He is currently approximately 850
 nautical miles east off the coast
 of Japan


For general media inquiries, please contact the press lines at Mission Control on 785 395 7054/5/6/7/8/9. For additional information and interview requests, please contact Lori Levin (Salina) 661-313-0301, (East Coast) or Debbie Dar, 609.897.7865 or e- mail vaagf1@aol.com or (West Coast) Sian Parry or Lauren Eastman at Glodow Nead Communications 415.394.6500, sian@glodownead.com or lauren@glodownead.com. For broadcast satellite info contact Bev Brunston at On the Scene at 323.930.1030 or http://www.onthescene.com.

The website will be updated constantly from Mission Control so for up to date information please log onto www.virginatlanticglobalflyer.com
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Mar 2, 2005
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