UpMarch 11th, 2010 by Mike Carlowicz
From Paul Newman, GloPac co-project scientist:
A flight day with the Global Hawk flight day starts very early and runs very late. For a 7 AM takeoff, the plane must be pulled out to a concrete pad adjacent to the runway at about 4 AM. This means the crew must arrive by 3 AM to get the plane ready.
The lead pilot of the Global Hawk, Dee Porter, led a meeting of the entire team this morning at 5. He reviewed the aircraft status and shared the flight plan.
The plan for today was to takeoff at 7 AM (Pacific) and fly for about 14 hours. The plane would stay in restricted airspace near Edwards Air Force Base, and a series of communications tests would be performed. About halfway through the flight, the entire crew of the Global Hawk Operations Center (GHOC) would be relieved and the plane handed off to a fresh batch of controllers.
The Global Hawk’s engine was started at about 6 AM, and the plane did indeed take off shortly after 7 AM. As I write this, the plane is cruising over central California at about 60,000 feet. If everything goes well, it should land at about 9 PM tonight.