When record-making Steve Fossett sets yet another one, some people shrug. He has set many a record in powered and un-powered aircraft, balloons, sailboats – if it moves, Fossett may have set a record in it.
Early last month, he and New Zealand soaring expert Terry Delore set a speed record for sailplanes, gliding over a 1,250-km – 675 nautical miles – triangular course. They averaged 149.23 kmh (80.56 knots) over the course, flying out of Ely, Nevada. The record they broke was set in 1987 by German pilot Hans Werner Grosse, whose speed was 77.6 knots, or 143.46 kmh.
It didn’t happen easily. According to Delore, the pair flew 18,000 km – 9,719 nautical miles – during 27 previous attempts, before capturing the 20-year-old record which, according to the National Aeronautic Association, was the longest-standing in its class.
Delore said they didn’t set out to break the record that day. They intended to test new equipment on their ASH-25 – for its 25-meter wingspan – sailplane, but conditions favored them and they decided, for the 28th time, to try for the record.
Delore said he did more of the flying on the record flight, while Fossett concentrated on navigation and looking for favorable conditions.