Steve Fossett breaks aviation record; CNN screws up story

Adventurer Steve Fossett broke the record today for longest non-stop flight in aviation history, surpassing the previous mark of 24,987 miles when his experimental plane — the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer — flew over Shannon, Ireland.

Fossett was supposed to land at Kent International Airport in Manston, England, but his plane suffered an electrical problem and he had to make an emergency landing at Bournemouth International Airport — blowing out two tires in the process. However, Fossett is safe on the ground after a few tense moments.

CNN had been breaking into their Saturday programming every now and then to give updates on Fossett’s progress. Right after they broke in to say Fossett had broken the distance record, I noticed on the GlobalFlyer tracking site that the plane had made a sharp southwesterly turn west of London that took it from its intended southeasterly route to Manston. The plane then seemed to circle near Bournemouth, giving it the appearance that it was making a landing approach there.

Finally, the text updates on the tracking site confirmed this, saying “mayday declared…diverted to Bournemouth…generator problem with aircraft…Steve avoided having to ditch…Steve safely on ground.”

However, a few minutes later, CNN again gave an update on the flight, but the weekend anchor erroneously reported that Fossett “has successfully landed at Kent International Airport in England.”

Now, I know it’s not a big deal, but CNN had been covering the story and now when the flight finally comes to an end, it gets the story wrong. I’m just somebody who was casually following the GlobalFlyer on its official tracking site and knew what had happened. How come a major news organization can’t get it right?

Oh, well…another media screw-up.

Congratulations to Fossett and his team!