Steve Fossett

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Steve Fossett

Postby WorldBFat » February 18th, 2008, 11:26 am

From http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/02/15/obit.fossett/:

CHICAGO, Illinois (CNN) -- A Chicago probate court judge Friday declared millionaire adventurer Steve Fossett dead five months after he disappeared while on a solo flight over the Nevada desert.
Judge Jeffrey Malak made the ruling after an emotional presentation from Fossett's wife of 38 years, Peggy, who also asked that her husband's will be entered into probate.
Fossett, who was 63, was last seen on the morning of September 3 when he took off from the Flying-M Ranch outside Minden, Nevada.
He said he was embarking on a pleasure flight over the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range in a single-engine plane.
Fossett was carrying a single bottle of water and had no parachute.
He had planned to fly over the Nevada desert for two to three hours, and was expecting to return for lunch to the ranch, owned by hotel magnate Barron Hilton.
At 3 p.m., when he had not returned, a search began that ultimately included thousands of volunteers, hundreds of officials and dozens of aircraft that scoured an area more than twice the size of New Jersey.
It continued until October 2, when it was officially suspended.
At the time of his death, Fossett was working to build a single-man submarine and to build a vehicle capable of breaking land speed records by traveling at up to 800 mph, Peggy Fossett's attorneys said when they filed the petition to have the adventurer declared dead.
"At first she hoped and sort of envisioned him walking down the road the next day with another story to tell," attorney Michael LoVallo told the Associated Press.
"But as the days went on, she realized it wasn't going to happen as it had on other occasions when he'd had close calls."
In the search for Fossett, wreckage from eight other crashes was discovered, one of them from the 1960s.
Fossett made his money in the financial services industry, but is renowned for his daredevil exploits, which include nonstop, round-the-world trips aboard a balloon, a fixed-wing plane and a boat.
He was the first person to circle the globe solo in a balloon, accomplishing the feat in 2002, and the first to fly a plane around the world solo without refueling, which he did in 2005. He also set world records in round-the-world sailing and cross-country skiing.
Born in Jackson, Tennessee, Fossett grew up in California, where he attended Stanford University, graduating with a degree in economics in 1966.
Two years later, he earned an MBA at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, and became a successful commodities broker, eventually launching the the Chicago-based securities company Lakota Trading in 1980.
He married Peggy Viehland in 1968. The couple had no children.
His interest in adventure started early. As a Boy Scout, he grew up climbing the mountains of California.
"When I was 12 years old, I climbed my first mountain, and I just kept going, taking on more diverse and grander projects," he told CNN in a 2006 interview.
Fossett fueled his drive for adventure with the money he made from Lakota Trading.
According to his Web site, Fossett swam the English Channel in 1985, finished 47th in the Iditarod dogsled race in 1992, competed in the Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii in 1996 and drove in the 24 Hours of Le Mans sports car race in 1993 and 1996.
He holds 14 world records in airplane flight, two in ballooning, 11 in sailing, six in glider flight, and one each in airship flight and cross-country skiing. He set numerous other records that have since been broken by other adventurers.
In 2004, he peeled six days off the record for sailing around the world, finishing the job in 58 days, 9 hour 32 minutes and 45 seconds. That record was broken by Bruno Preyon in 2005.
His flights aboard the jet aircraft Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer and the balloon Bud Light Spirit of Freedom gained him worldwide fame. Fossett took the GlobalFlyer around the world in 2005, starting off from and returning to Salinas, Kansas, in three days, covering 22,936 miles, making him the first person to fly solo around the globe without refueling.
GlobalFlyer was designed and built by Burt Rutan's Scaled Composites and sponsored by fellow millionaire adventurer Richard Branson's Virgin Atlantic airline.
A year later, he set the nonstop distance record, covering 25,766 miles in GlobalFlyer from Kennedy Space Center to Bournemouth, England.
The balloon Spirit of Freedom's around-the-world flight took place in 2002, the first successful solo circumnavigation of the globe in a balloon.
Fossett made the trip despite fierce winds and an onboard fire. It was his sixth try after setting distance records but never making the complete circuit between 1996 and 2001.
Branson, who also made several unsuccessful attempts to fly a balloon around the world, teamed with Fossett and Swedish balloonist Per Lindstrom in an unsuccessful 1998 attempt.
Of all his records, Fossett said that Spirit of Freedom's flight is his favorite.
"We had to really upgrade the technical capability of balloons, and the flight was much more difficult then I'd ever imagined it would be," he told CNN last year. "I tried six times over the course of six years before succeeding." His passion, he said in that interview, was glider flight.
Despite the risks he'd taken over the years, Fossett told CNN he was basically a "risk adverse" person.
"What I do is try and reduce the risk," he said. "I don't do any of this for the thrills. I'm doing them for the personal achievement."
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And he had a vision for his future.
"I imagine that when I'm 80 years old and sitting in a wheelchair that I might do something like take a remote-control airplane and try and fly it around the world," he said. "I plan to be setting and breaking records indefinitely."
WorldBFat
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