Adventurer In Single-engine Plane Now In Race Against Time
Continues Historic Flight On Tuesday 10:00 AM From Sebastian Municipal Airport
January 19, 2004
Gustavus (Gus) McLeod, who made history in 2000 when he became the first pilot to fly to the North Pole in an open-cockpit plane, is trying now to become the first person to successfully circumnavigate the globe, crossing both the North and South Poles, in a single engine aircraft. McLeod is pinning his hopes on a tiny one-of-a-kind plane called the Firefly, which barely accommodates his 6' 2" , 250 pound frame. Designed by Velocity Aircraft of Sebastian, Florida, and modified by the Korean Aerospace Research Institute, the Firefly features a forward canard wing configuration similar to the one used by the Wright Brothers. The propeller is in the rear.
McLeod set out December 29th from College Park, Maryland on this 30,000 mile journey to honor the pioneers of aviation, especially his childhood heroes, the Tuskegee Airmen. The plane began to burn too much oil, and McLeod was forced to make a pit stop in Florida at Velocity's headquarters, where the Firefly's engine was fitted with new cylinders. Extra fuel tanks were also installed to extend the plane's range. Now McLeod will take off again on Tuesday after tests are completed on the repair work- and he finds himself in a race against time to make it over the South Pole while there is still a chance to find a weather window. What passes for summer in Antarctica ends in late January, and after that the environment becomes too inhospitable for small aircraft.
The entire trip is expected to last about two months. The toughest leg will likely be Antarctica, which will require McLeod to fly for 27 hours straight, without a break, over the planet s most desolate terrain, where temperatures are likely to reach more the fifty degrees below zero. At least three other fliers have attempted this feat in the last year alone, and all either crashed or turned back because of the severe conditions they encountered in Antarctica.
McLeod's adventure is being produced for television by Three Roads Communications, Inc., of Frederick, MD, the producers of the public television series Legends of Airpower. Gus is a great inspiration to all of us, says Three Roads president, Russ Hodge. A companion curriculum has been developed by a team from Florida Atlantic University headed by Dr. Barbara Ganson, to help schoolchildren learn about the world's aviation pioneers.
3 Roads Communications
Frederick, MD, 301-662-4121
301-662-4121 ext. 111
301-662-4121 ext. 101