SALINA, Kan. – A quarter of the way to history, millionaire adventurer Steve Fossett (search) raced across North Africa and the Middle East on Tuesday in his bid to become the first person to fly a plane around the globe solo, nonstop and without refueling.
Fossett was over Pakistan at 49,500 feet around 11 p.m. EST, traveling east at 390 mph.
His experimental single-engine GlobalFlyer (search) had consumed 25 percent of its 18,000 pounds of fuel, while Fossett had downed at least three diet chocolate milkshakes. The jet took off after sunset Monday from Salina.
"At this time everything is going very well, I'm very happy with the situation and I think we've got a good chance," Fossett said during a call from the plane, according to his Web site.
Fossett's mission control in Salina estimated he will complete the 23,000-mile journey at midday Thursday.
Fossett, 60, already holds the record for flying solo around the globe in a balloon, as well as dozens of other aviation and sailing records.
Project manager Paul Moore said Fossett reached his cruising altitude of 45,000 feet over the Atlantic instead of over Saudi Arabia, as originally expected, because of better-than-expected performance of the GlobalFlyer.
The project is being financed by Virgin Atlantic (search) founder Sir Richard Branson, a longtime friend and fellow adventurer.
For a while early Tuesday, Fossett was flying blind and in the dark over the U.S.-Canada border after experiencing difficulties with his global positioning system. Moore said Fossett relied on help from mission control to navigate before the problem corrected itself.
"It was a minor scare that could have been a real show-stopper," Moore said.
Fossett is trying to break several aviation records, including the longest flight by a jet. The record is more than 12,000 miles, set by a B-52 bomber in 1962.
Aviation pioneer Wiley Post (search) made the first solo around-the-world trip in 1933, taking more than seven days and stopping numerous times. The first nonstop global flight without refueling was made in 1986 by Jeana Yeager and Dick Rutan, brother of GlobalFlyer designer Burt Rutan.
In 2002, Fossett became the first person to fly a balloon solo around the world.