Previous Updates

Update June 7, 1997
05:00 EDT (5:00 pm, New York)

L'Esprit d'Intertechnique has been refueled by the first ocean-going tug, La Picardie, as of 0445 EDT. The morale of the pilots is good. There is no word about whether or not they have been able to get sleep, but the flight physician advised the pilots to take 40 minute cat naps. Their first naps were scheduled for this leg of the flight, when the pilots would alternately doze off for 30-40 minutes. The flight to the next refueling station will be long but light. Sunrise was three and one-half hours ago so the pilots can enjoy flying during the daylight.

The weather ahead remains something of a concern. Forecasts before takeoff showed a low pressure area in the vicinity of the "Abeille Supporter," the second refuel ship. As three hours ago, the "Supporter" was located at 52ø59N and 28ø04W. The ship's crew reported winds of 25 to 30 knots, low visibility of 8 meters, and pressure at 1013 milibar and steady.

The pilots have expressed some concern about the weather and refueling at the second and third ship. Gerard David indicated that this might be the most challenging section of the flight. (Real Audio)


The flight as of 0410 EDT (4:10 am, New York)

Airspeed: 230 km/h (130 knots)

Altitude: 2020 meters (5905 feet)

Current position: -45.2883 longitude, 51.1169 latitude

Distance from Le Bourget: 3,356 km (about 2123 miles)

Update June 7, 1997
3:00 EDT (3:00 am, New York)

Pilots report a continuation of the headwind they have faced for most of the flight. "There is a beautiful sunrise and weather conditions are rather good." The next refueling process is scheduled for approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes from now (4:45 am, New York time). This will be the first ship refuel stop. The ocean-going tug, "La Picardie," is stationed at approximately N51 50 W41, awaiting the arrival of L'Esprit d'Intertechnique. The pilots have been able to increase the speed of the helicopter back to almost 120 knots.

The flight as of 0310 EDT (3:10 am, New York)

Airspeed: 210 km/h (119 knots)

Altitude: 1950 meters (5700 feet)

Current position: -51.1119 longitude, 49.8292 latitude

Distance from Le Bourget: 3,792 km (about 2399 miles)

Update June 6, 1997
00:05 EDT (12:05 pm, New York)


Headwinds continue to be a problem on the flight. Speed has dropped to 180 km/h (102 knots). The refueling stop in Gander was over 40 minutes behind schedule. Refueling took a little longer than at Fredericton, New Brunswick, because weather conditions on the ground were poor. It is foggy in Gander, causing problems with visibility. The current temperature on the ground is 32 F, 0 C, with a 19 km/h wind from the North. The relative humidity is 93%, and the barometric pressure is holding at 102.3 kPa.

Both pilots are in good spirits and carrying on their responsibilities with no fatigue problems yet.

The flight as of 22:54 EDT (10:54 pm, New York)

Airspeed: 180 km/h (102 knots)

Altitude: 1910 meters (5585 feet)

Current position: -57.0931 longitude, 48.4128 latitude

Distance from Le Bourget: 4,255 km (about 2692 miles)

Update June 6, 1997
21:00 EDT (9:00 pm, New York)

Current flight speed is 120 knots. Headwinds have been a constant companion during the flight so far. L'Esprit d'Intertechnique 1997 is at N 46 35 00, W 64 15 00.

Time to the refueling stop in Gander, Newfoundland is estimated at 1 hr 40 minutes, where the time will be 23:40 NDT (10:40 pm, New York).

The next update in two hours will have details of the second refueling stop as well as weather over the North Atlantic.

Update June 6, 1997
19:00 EDT (7:00 pm, New York)

The first refueling process in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada was completed approximately 40 minutes ago, taking less than 7 minutes. This is right in line with predictions prior to the flight. The crew had estimated a total time of 10 minutes to be spent in refueling, including dropping the fuel line and reeling it back in. Transfer of 800 kilos of fuel was expected to take about 5 minutes.

Pilots reported sunny weather at Fredericton with temperatures in the mid-50's (13 C), and the operation was completed in very good conditions.

The helicopter is bucking 15 knot headwinds as it travels toward the next refueling stop in Gander, Newfoundland.

Gerard David reports that the visibility at Gander is very low, making the pilots a little apprehensive about the refueling procedure at that location. Gander will be the last land-based refueling stop before the long Atlantic flight.

The Gander refueling is scheduled for 22:32 EDT (10:32 pm, New York).

Representatives of the International Aeronautical Federation recorded the official takeoff time as 18H16M0706S GMT (Greenwich Mean Time).

The average ground speed of L'Esprit d'Intertechnique 1997 is 125 knots, slower than the speed estimated prior to the flight. The slower speed will add about 30 minutes of flight between refueling. This is well within the margin to which the crew has prepared, but certainly a cause for concern if the headwinds increase or if visibility or other weather related factors over the Atlantic add to fuel burn.


The flight as of 18:30 EDT (6:30 pm, New York)

Airspeed: 200 km/h (114 knots)

Altitude: 1180 meters (approx. 3,450 feet)

Current position: -66.05 longitude, 45.9967 latitude.

Distance from Le Bourget: 4,979 km (about 3,150 miles)

Update June 6, 1997
17:00 EDT (5:00 pm, New York)

L'Esprit d'Intertechnique 1997 took off from Teterboro, New Jersey at 14:15 EDT (2:15 pm New York time) under normal flight conditions with a crowd of well-wishers cheering them on. Aircraft and crew are faring well during this early stage of the long flight. Typical conditions around the New York City area included lots of air traffic, requiring the crew to use visual flight rules to assure themselves of clear travel in their route toward the first refueling stop. The aircraft is also under the direction of air traffic control in the area.

The early stage of the flight involves the crew becoming comfortable with their routine, making instrument checks, staying in contact with ground crews and chase plane and other similar activities. Both pilots are well-rested and ready for the challenges that may wait ahead, however as the flight wears on fatigue will become a concern.

The weather is fair for the flight so far. The New York area was reporting an overcast sky with mild conditions, 63 F, 17 C. Winds were out of the South at 6 mph (11 km/h) and humidity was 58%. As the helicopter continues northeasterly, the temperature will drop.

The first refueling stop is Fredericton, New Brunswick. Current temperatures there are 55 F, 13 C. Winds are very mild, northeasterly at 2.5 mph (4 km/h) with relative humidity of 67%. The barometric pressure is 102.5 and falling.


The flight as of 15:45 EDT (3:45 pm New York time)

Airspeed: 220 km/h (125 knots)

Altitude: 1780 meters (approx. 5,200 feet)

Current position: -71.7739 longitude, 43.1572 latitude.

Distance from Le Bourget: 5,531 km (about 3,500 miles)

Update June 6, 1997
15:00 EDT (3:00 pm, New York)

Weather: New York 63 F, 17 C. Overcast, mild. Winds from the South at 6 mph (11 kmph). Humidity 58%.

At first refueling stop - Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada the weather is currently 37 F. Winds are from the Northeast at 16 mph, relative humidity is 100% and barometer is at 30.15 inches. High temperature forecast to be 55 F.

Update: L'Esprit d'Intertechnique 1997 is inflight. Takeoff was at 2:15 pm EDT from Teterboro, New Jersey.

Copyright 1997, WilburGroup, Inc. All rights reserved. 

Do not duplicate or redistribute in any form.