Archive for Thursday, January 19, 2006

Area student tabbed to help with flight

January 19, 2006

Once again, Nancy Milleret will track millionaire pilot Steve Fossett as he attempts a record-breaking flight.

A year ago, Fossett broke world records when he completed a 67-hour solo around-the-world flight, taking off from and landing the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer at Kansas State University's Salina College of Technology and Aviation.

Milleret, Tonganoxie High School's 2002 valedictorian, was one of three K-State students who worked in mission control during Fossett's 2005 flight.

In a few weeks, Fossett will go for another world record. His goal is to top the world's longest nonstop flight distance record during the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer's "Ultimate Flight."

The plane will take off in Florida, circle the globe and land in London. And again, Milleret will help with flight planning and work in mission control during Fossett's flight, this time at the London Virgin Atlantic headquarters.

According to Kansas State University, Milleret will be based at mission control in England, "assisting with aircraft tracking, weather reporting and air traffic control communications."

Because the flight's date depends on weather conditions, Milleret doesn't yet know when she'll fly to London.

"Whenever the weather is optimum and we know we're going to take off, that's when I'll leave," Milleret said. "It might be a day or two notice, sometime around the end of January or sometime around the end of February."

The flight is expected to take at least 80 hours, time which Milleret and others assigned to mission control will be working around the clock.

"Basically we track his progress and make position reports when he's over the ocean," Milleret said. "It's easier for us to call up air traffic control than it is for him -- it's something to take the burden off of Steve."

Milleret described Fossett as "just a nice guy."

"He's not the outgoing hero that you might expect," she said. "He doesn't go on and on about all the things he does. He likes to listen to other people's stories, he likes to talk to us and hear about all the things we're doing."

In London, she'll be working alongside two others that attend K-State's Salina school. Milleret, a senior majoring in professional pilot, is the daughter of Mark and Melinda Milleret, Linwood. She plans to become a corporate pilot.

Melinda Milleret said she and her husband were pleased that their daughter would be able to work on mission control again.

They've been following their daughter's interest in flight since, as a junior in high school, she started taking flying lessons. By the time Nancy started college she had earned her private pilot's license.

"We're excited," Melinda Milleret said of the GlobalFlyer experiences. "As parents, we can't believe all that she's accomplished in her school years."

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