Unless you're a dedicated fan of the indoor track and field circuit in Europe, you've probably never heard of Bianca Kappler. But she's worth a moment of your time , if only because she may be one of the world's most honest athletes. Last weekend at a meet in Madrid, the German long jumper was awarded the gold medal for a final effort of 22 feet, 10 inches. She handed it back, saying (in a rough translation): "I know I can't jump that far." She pointed to her five previous tries , the longest of which was 21 feet 11-3/4 inches. Meet officials asked her to sleep on it and jump alone the next day, but she declined. Human error was blamed for for measuring her leap incorrectly, and in the end she took home a share of the bronze medal instead.
Steve Fossett, an investment executive and avid glider and balloon pilot, secured a spot in aviation history for the second time in three years when he completed the first nonstop solo plane flight around the world late last week. In 2002, Fossett spent more than 355 straight hours aloft, completing the world's first solo nonstop round-the-world balloon flight. This time, he piloted a custom single-engine jet plane 67 straight hours, beginning and ending in Salina, Kan. The major round-the-world flying records, with years and time in the air:
First round-the-world flight of any kind (1924) 175 days (made by two biplanes)
Airship flight (1929) 20 days, 4 hours
Solo plane flight (1933) 7 days, 18 hours, 49.5 minutes.
Nonstop plane flight (1949) 3 days, 22 hours, 1 minute (with four aerial refuelings)
Nonstop jet plane flight (1957) 45 hours, 19 minutes
Nonstop plane flight without refueling (1986) 9 days, 3 minutes (at 115 m.p.h.)
Nonstop balloon flight (1999) 19 days, 21 hours, 55 minutes
Solo nonstop balloon flight (2002) 14 days, 19 hours
Solo nonstop plane flight (2005)2 days, 19 hours