Saturday, February 11, 2006

Global Flyer Update 8 - a heading for home?

7.15PM AEST: LATEST. The Virgin Atlantic Global Flyer website is reporting that the "point of no return" decision will be made around 1030 UTC, which is in 75 minutes. They have 1800lbs of fuel left, but I don't know what that means. They quote someone named Kevin Stass as being "cautiously optimistic".

EARLIER: 7.00pm AEST. It's technically decision-time. They're about to head out into the Atlantic over the Flemish Cap, which is the lighter-coloured wedge shape in front of the right wing in this picture (again, stolen from the website):

In one of those cases where the book and the film made of it are totally different kinds of beasts, Sebastian Junger's The Perfect Storm is pretty good book which tells you all you ever wanted to know about fishing off Newfoundland and the north-eastern United States; and how the fishermen had to keep heading further and further offshore.

After reading it, you think about things differently when you hear that someone is beyond the Flemish Cap. That's getting into deep water.

STILL EARLIER: 6.00pm AEST. Well, according to the tracking page on the website, the plane has reached St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada, and they've changed course from about 52 degrees to around 67, which - by my reckoning - would point them straight at the U.K.

It's only 0800 UTC, which is an hour before the expected decision point. But if they've almost got enough fuel to get across, then they should have the fuel to get almost half-way across and then turn around and come back*, so the go/no go decision might not be made for a few hours yet. Watchers of the tracking page should be able to tell if they've turned back within a few minutes of them doing so.

*Wasn't there a Marx Brothers routine like that in A Night at the Opera?


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