ELKHART -- John Roncz
breath, figuratively at least, for a couple of hours Monday evening.
was not among the hundreds of spectators who watched the airplane take off about 7:45 p.m. Monday.
"I've got all the (computer) software here," he
explained."If they run into some trouble, I can help from here."He
designed the shell, or outside of the airplane, and another five engineers worked in their own specialties on other parts of it.
"This is a whole different ball game," Roncz
said."Voyager was much easier to design."
Voyager had two propeller engines that didn't burn nearly the fuel the single jet on GlobalFlyer will burn.Roncz
said Yeager and Rutan burned about 7,000 pounds of fuel, while Fossett will burn about 18,000 pounds of it.
said commercial jets cruise at about 30,000 to 35,000 feet.
Another difference is personal.Roncz
describes Yeager and Rutan as very good friends of his.
Elkhart resident John Roncz
designed the outside structure of GlobalFlyer, the airplane being flown around the world by Steve Fossett without being refueled.
work actually has come a long way since Voyager.He
believes GlobalFlyer is 47 percent more efficient than Voyager.
Getting the airplane down could be another trick, although Roncz
isn't anticipating any problems with landing.The airplane comes with two parachutes.Roncz
said that if it loses power, it also would lose cabin pressurization, and Fossett would have a little more than a minute before losing consciousness.
has been fascinated by flight about as long as he
was born in South Bend, in what is now Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center
describes airplanes as "a major passion for me."
was in high school, he
bought a book titled "Theory of Wing Sections."
"I was fascinated by the wings, but the math was excruciating," he
In college, Roncz
started taking flying lessons when he
managed to earn enough money to pay for them.He
now has a commercial pilot's license.He graduated from Notre Dame with a liberal arts degree and had various jobs while continuing to study how airplanes worked as a hobby.He
built a computer from a Heathkit and invented graphics for it.
When that computer wasn't fast enough, he
built another computer and wrote the operating system for it.
Eventually, the computer industry caught up with him, and he
first commercial computer, an IBM personal computer, in 1982 or 1983.Roncz
became the amateur, always bugging NASA
about mistakes he
could find in its computer programming.Finally, 23 years ago, he started Gemini Technologies Inc. and began designing airplane wings and similar things full time.Roncz
designed all or part of some of the drone aircraft the U.S. military has used in Iraq and Afghanistan.