US adventurer Steve Fossett missing
8:45AM Wednesday September 05, 2007
Billionaire adventurer Steve Fossett is missing after taking off in Nevada in a light plane.
RENO - US adventurer Steve Fossett, who made record-breaking solo flights around the world by plane and balloon, is missing after taking off in Nevada in a small plane, aviation authorities said.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said Fossett, who has visited New Zealand several times to attempt various gliding records in Central Otago, was reported missing on Monday night after taking off from a ranch in a single engine aircraft in the morning.
The FAA said the millionaire did not file a flight plan, nor was one required. It said Fossett, 63, had not been in communication with air traffic controllers and no distress signal had been received.
"It's rough, mountainous terrain there, there are not a lot of roads out there, rocky; picture if you will Afghanistan," Commander Douglas Russell of the Naval Air Station, Fallon, Nevada told Reuters.
The Navy had dispatched a helicopter to help in the search alongside the Civil Air Patrol.
Fossett spokesman Stuart Radnofsky said Fossett had been visiting the Flying M Ranch owned by Barron Hilton, which he described as a popular sport flying centre.
Fossett, who earned his fortune as a financial trader, in 2002 became the first person to fly a balloon solo around the world and in 2005 achieved the first solo non-stop flight around the world in the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer aircraft.
Last year Fossett flew solo in the GlobalFlyer to set the absolute non-stop distance record for any aircraft and set a new glider world altitude record with co-pilot Einar Enevoldson.
Fossett has also competed in endurance competitions, swam the English Channel and set numerous world records in sailing.
Ron Kaplan, executive director of the National Aviation Hall of Fame in Dayton, Ohio, which enshrined Fossett in May, said Fossett was not a daredevil. Rather, Fossett was a careful aviator who took advantage of advances in aviation technology to chase records.
"He never seems to stop looking for the next challenge," Kaplan told Reuters. "He harkens back to the golden age of flight between the world wars when there was a multitude of records to be broken because of advances in technology."