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FAA: Adventurer Fossett's Plane Missing


By SCOTT SONNER – 18 minutes ago


RENO, Nev. (AP)  Teams searched rugged terrain Tuesday for a plane carrying aviation adventurer Steve Fossett, the first person to circle the world solo in a balloon, a day after the plane vanished, federal officials said.


Fossett took off in the single engine Bellanca at 8:45 a.m. Monday at a private airstrip on a ranch south of Smith Valley in western Nevada and didn't return as scheduled. A friend reported him missing, said Ian Gregor, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman in Maryland.


"The Civil Air Patrol is looking for him. One problem is he doesn't appear to have filed a flight plan," Gregor said.


The search for the millionaire entrepreneur was being coordinated by the Air Force's Rescue Coordination Center in Langley, Va., Gregor said.


"They are working on some leads, but they don't know where he is right now," Gregor said.


In 2002, Fossett became the first person to fly around the world alone in a balloon. In two weeks, his balloon flew 19,428.6 miles around the Southern Hemisphere. The record came after five previous attempts  some of them spectacular and frightening failures.


Three years later, in March 2005, he became the first person to fly a plane solo around the world without refueling.


He and a co-pilot also claim to have set a world glider altitude record of 50,671 feet during a flight in August over the Andes Mountains.


Fossett, a Stanford University graduate with a master's degree from Washington University in St. Louis, came to Chicago to work in the securities business and ultimately founded his own firm, Marathon Securities.


The 63-year-old has climbed some of the world's tallest peaks, including the Matterhorn in Switzerland and Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. He also swam the English Channel in 1985, placed 47th in the Iditarod dog sled race in 1992 and participated in the 24 Hours of Le Mans car race in 1996.


In 1995, Fossett became the first person to fly solo across the Pacific Ocean in a balloon, landing in Leader, Saskatchewan, Canada.


Fossett, of Beaver Creek, Colo., was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in July. He told a crowd gathered at the Dayton Convention Center in Ohio that he would continue flying.


"I'm hoping you didn't give me this award because you think my career is complete, because I'm not done," Fossett said.


Fossett said he planned to go to Argentina in November in an effort to break a glider record.



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  • 2 weeks later...
Guest Fred Bear

Hunt for Fossett grinds to a halt: police


11 hours ago


LOS ANGELES (AFP)  The hunt for missing aviator Steve Fossett has ground to a virtual standstill, police said Monday, two weeks after the adventurer's plane vanished over the Nevada wilderness.


Nevada State police spokesman Chuck Allen told AFP the search for Fossett had been dramatically scaled back with only two grounded aircraft on standby and "four or five" military helicopters now deployed in the hunt.


At one stage during the search for 63-year-old Fossett -- who has not been heard from since taking off from a private airstrip in Nevada on September 6 -- around 45 aircraft were patrolling the area.


However Allen said the Civil Air Patrol had wound down their operations after completing their searches of an estimated 20,000 square miles (52,000 square kilometers) of rugged mountain terrain.


"The Civil Air Patrol feel that they have completed their search of 98 percent of the ground that needed to be covered," Allen told AFP.


"They feel like they've done everything they can at this stage. They will leave two aircraft on standby and in the event of them receiving new information, or a positive lead, they will be deployed."


Allen acknowledged a sense of disappointment amongst pilots and volunteers who had been engaged in the search.


"With all the assets that have been used in this operation there is a level of frustration that we have not been able to find Mr Fossett," he said.


"Everyone involved has put in 102 percent, so yes, there is disappointment."


During the search, rescuers had located wreckage from seven previously unrecorded crash sites, but there has been no trace of Fossett's single-engined Bellanca Citabria Super Decathlon.


The search has been hindered by Fossett's failure to file a flight plan. That has left rescuers searching for a "needle in a haystack."


Fossett has survived numerous near-misses and harrowing crash landings over the years, including a 9,000-meter (29,000-foot) plummet into the Coral Sea off Australia because of a storm-shredded balloon.


Fossett made the first solo nonstop, non-refueled circumnavigation of the world in 67 hours in the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer. In 2002, he was the first person to fly solo around the world in a balloon.



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