Fossett "Overdue" After Taking Off In Super Decathlon
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
Fossett departed the private airfield Monday with approximately
five hours of fuel onboard -- near the maximum for a Bellanca Super
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.