MANSTON, England - Adventurer Steve Fossett completed the longest nonstop flight in aviation history Saturday after journeying around the globe — and then some — in about 80 hours, but had to land early because of mechanical problems.
Ground control said Fossett, 61, broke the airplane distance record of 24,987 miles while his lightweight experimental plane was flying over Shannon, Ireland.
He then was force to land at Bournemouth International Airport, in southern England, instead of at a military air strip in nearby Kent because of generator problems.
The millionaire adventurer broke the record during 3 1/2 days of flying despite losing about 750 pounds of fuel during takeoff from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida because of a leak.
Weak winds over the Atlantic and severe turbulence over India — which, at one point, forced Fossett to strap on a parachute — prompted fears Fossett would have to ditch his record-breaking attempt in Newfoundland.
Instead, his flight team altered his projected route, having Fossett cross Florida, where he had begun his nonstop journey Wednesday, and take a southerly path on the flight's last leg to take advantage of better winds.
Early Saturday, Fossett decided to try to finish the trip after reaching the middle of the Atlantic.
His voyage broke the airplane distance record of 24,987 miles set in 1986 by the lightweight Voyager aircraft piloted by Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager, as well as the balloon record of 25,361 miles set by Brian Jones and Bertrand Piccard in 1999.
Associated Press reporter Mike Schneider in Cape Canaveral, Fla., contributed to this report.