July 3, 2005

Adventurers Try to Reprise Historic Flight

ST. JOHN'S, Newfoundland (AP) -- American adventurers Steve Fossett and Mark Rebholz took off Saturday in an attempt to retrace a record-setting flight across the Atlantic made 86 years earlier.

Charles Lindbergh completed the first solo trans-Atlantic flight in 1927, traveling nonstop from the United States to France. But eight years before that, the team of John Alcock and Arthur Whitten-Brown became the first ever to fly the ocean in a flight from Newfoundland to Ireland.

Millionaire adventurer Fossett and co-pilot Rebholz left St. John's, Newfoundland, for Clifden, Ireland, at 7:20 p.m. (6:20 p.m. EDT), to replay that 1919 team flight, said Dean Williams, a spokesman for the pilots.

Fossett and Rebholz hoped to take off June 14 - the anniversary of the Alcock-Whitten-Brown flight - but were grounded by bad weather and equipment problems.

Fossett, 60, and Rebholz, 52, spent the hours before the launch looking over the plane and testing its engine, Williams said.

In March, Fossett became the first person to fly around the world solo without stopping or refueling. He also holds the record for the first solo balloon flight around the world.

The aircraft they will pilot is as close a replica as possible to the Vickers Vimy flown by Alcock and Whitten-Brown, but it has a taller wheel, modern engines and brakes and radios.

Fossett and Rebholz hope to land on the eighth hole on Clifden's Connemara Golf Links.