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Tue, Sep 04, 2007

Search Continues For Missing Adventurer Steve Fossett

Fossett "Overdue" After Taking Off In Super Decathlon

ANN REALTIME UPDATE 09.04.07 1800 EDT: The search continues for missing adventurer Steve Fossett... and while there's little new information regarding the search, we are learning more about why the record-holding pilot was out flying Monday.

The Associated Press reports Fossett took off from the Flying M Ranch Monday morning, to scout out dry lakebeds for his next record-attempt -- this one on land.

Fossett was seeking places for an upcoming attempt to break the land speed record in a jet-powered car, said Paul Charles, a spokesman for Sir Richard Branson.

There are reports Fossett may have been scouting locations near restricted airspace... which could mean Fossett's flight path may have been tracked, if only briefly, by military radar... potentially giving some clue as to where Fossett's plane may have disappeared.

Fossett departed the private airfield Monday with approximately five hours of fuel onboard -- near the maximum for a Bellanca Super Decathlon.

Original Reports

1545 EDT: Civil Air Patrol officials tell CNN they're continuing the search for the Bellanca Super Decathlon piloted by billionaire adventurer Steve Fossett, that went missing shortly after takeoff from a private airstrip in Western Nevada Monday morning.

CAP identified the plane as N240R, an 8KCAB-180 registered to the Flying M Hunting Club in Yerington, NV. The aircraft is shown above (Copyrighted photo of N240R used with permission of photographer Doug Robertson Jr. Photo from .)

Fossett departed from the Flying M Ranch, about 30 miles south of Yerington, just before 0900 PDT Monday. Earlier reports stated Fossett took off Monday evening.

The Decathlon is an aerobatic-capable aircraft, though Fossett -- who reportedly dislikes performing aerobatic maneuvers -- is not believed to have planned such maneuvers on his flight.

He was not wearing a parachute, a requirement only when flying aerobatics with more than one person onboard.

CAP crews have not detected a signal from the plane's ELT.

Original Report

We have but the sketchiest of details to go on right now, but ANN has learned that a search is on for world-record holding pilot and adventurer, Steve Fossett. Fossett was reported as having departed Nevada's Hilton Ranch airport in a blue and white Super Decathlon, Monday night, and has not been seen since.

Fossettt, 63, is now the subject of a growing CAP Search. Civil Air Patrol spokesperson, Maj. Cynthia S. Ryan said that three crews are in the air looking for Fossett’s blue and white aircraft and that more are on the way.

“We will be launching more shortly,” she said.

Local reports indicate the search area is a tough one... covering "hundreds of square miles of rugged terrain." CAP is currently canvassing local airports in the event that he had to put down there, but so far, no reports indicate any sightings.

Fossett is no stranger to the Nevada area. Less than two months ago, Fossett launched himself into the history books yet again... as he and fellow Glider Pilot Terry Delore added to their long list of successes by flying a 777 mile triangular course in Nevada in 8 hours and 23 minutes at a new world record average speed of 92.73 mph. This allowed Fossett and Delore to break one of the oldest world gliding records in the book -- "the last of the major glider records" set two decades ago by the legendary Hans Werner Grosse of Germany.

Fossett's web site noted that Grosse dominated glider world records for many years -- and at age 85 continues to fly high performance gliders. Grosse's 1250 kilometer record of 89.14 mph was flown from Alice Springs in the Australian outback on January 10, 1987.

Along with the rest of the aviation world, we're hoping for good news as the search progresses... ANN will update this story as soon as we have additional info.

Bio Information

Steve Fossett is probably one of the world's greatest record-breaking adventurers. He holds 116 records in five different sports, including balloons, jet airplanes and gliders, including records for US Transcontinental, Australia Transcontinental, and the fastest flight in a non-supersonic airplane at 742.02 mph, not to mention numerous world speed sailing records. Flying with co-pilot Terry Delore, Fossett set nine of the 21 Glider Open records.

Among Fossett's most notable achievements are the successful completion of a solo balloon trip around the world in July 2002 in the "Bud Light Spirit of Freedom." Fossett also set an Absolute Round the World Speed Record, a new record for the Fastest Speed by a Manned Balloon and a new 24 Hour Balloon Distance Record.

Fossett also became the first solo aircraft pilot to circumnavigate the globe without refueling in March 2005, in his Virgin Atlantic Global Flyer. Fossett completed that trip in 66 hours.

Fossett was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame (NAHF) at the 46th annual ceremony in July.

He was born on April 22, 1944 in California. In 1966, he earned a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from Washington University in 1968.



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