Tuesday, November 27, 2007

steve fossett

Steve Fossett
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Steve Fossett

Born James Stephen Fossett
April 22, 1944
Jackson, Tennessee
Nationality American
Known for Aviator, sailor and adventurer
James Stephen Fossett (born April 22, 1944 - missing since September 3, 2007) is an American aviator, sailor and adventurer. Fossett made his fortune in the financial services industry and is best known for many world records including five nonstop circumnavigations of the Earth: as a long-distance solo balloonist, as a sailor, and as a solo flight fixed-wing aircraft pilot.

A fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and The Explorers Club, Fossett has set 116 records in five different sports, 60 of which still stand.[1]

Fossett was reported missing on September 3, 2007 after the plane he was flying over the Nevada desert failed to return.[2] Despite over a month of searches by the Civil Air Patrol and others, Fossett has not been located, and the search by CAP was called off on October 2, 2007. However, privately funded and directed search efforts continue. On November 26th, 2007, Fossett's wife requested that Fossett be declared legally dead.[3]

1 Early years
2 Business career
3 Personal life
4 Records
4.1 Overview
4.2 Balloon pilot
4.3 Sailor
4.4 Airship pilot
4.5 Fixed-wing aircraft pilot
4.5.1 Global Flyer
4.5.2 Transcontinental aircraft records
4.5.3 First trans-Atlantic flight re-creation
4.5.4 Glider records
4.6 Cross-country skiing
4.7 Mountain climbing
4.8 Other accomplishments
4.9 Previous attempts at records
5 Awards and honors
6 Disappearance and search
7 See also
8 References
9 Further reading
10 External links

[edit] Early years
Fossett was born in Jackson, Tennessee. His family later moved, and he grew up in Garden Grove, California.[1]

Fossett's interest in adventure began early. As a Boy Scout, he grew up climbing the mountains of California, beginning with the San Jacinto Mountains.[4] "When I was 12 years old I climbed my first mountain, and I just kept going, taking on more diverse and grander projects."[5] Fossett said that he did not have a natural gift for athletics or team sports, so he focused on activities that required persistence and endurance.[6] His father, an Eagle Scout, encouraged Fossett to pursue these types of adventures and encouraged him to become involved with the Boy Scouts early.[4] At age 13,[4] Fossett also earned the Boy Scouts' highest rank of Eagle Scout.[7] Fossett said in 2006 that Scouting was the most important activity of his youth.[4]

In college at Stanford University, Fossett was already known as an adventurer; his Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity brothers convinced him to swim to Alcatraz and raise a banner that read "Beat Cal" on the wall of the prison, closed two years previously.[6] Fossett held various leadership positions at Stanford, including serving in student government and serving as President of a few clubs.[4] In 1966, Fossett graduated from Stanford with a degree in economics.[8] After graduation, Fossett spent the summer in Europe climbing mountains and swimming the Dardanelles.[6]

[edit] Business career
In 1968, Fossett received an MBA from The Olin School of Business at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, where Fossett has been a longtime member of the Board of Trustees.[9] Fossett's first job out of business school was with IBM; he then served as a consultant for Deloitte and Touche, and later accepted a job with Marshall Fields. Fossett later said, "For the first five years of my business career, I was distracted by being in computer systems, and then I became interested in financial markets. That's where I thrived."[4]

Fossett then became a successful commodities salesman in Chicago, first for Merrill Lynch in 1973, where he proved a highly successful producer of commission revenue for himself and that firm. He began working in 1976 for Drexel Burnham, which provided him with a membership on the Chicago Board of Trade and permitted him to market the services of the firm from a phone on the floor of that exchange. In 1980, Fossett began the process that eventually produced his enduring prosperity: renting exchange memberships to would-be floor traders, first on the Chicago Board Options Exchange.[6][10]

After 15 years of working for other companies,[4] Fossett founded his own firms, Marathon Securities and Lakota Trading, from which he made millions renting exchange memberships.[1][11][8] He founded Lakota Trading for that purpose in 1980.[12] In the early 1980s,[4] he founded Marathon Securities and extended that successful formula to memberships on the New York stock exchanges. He earned millions renting floor trading privileges (exchange memberships) to hopeful new floor traders, who would also pay clearing fees to Fossett's clearing firms in proportion to the trading activity of those renting the memberships. As of 1997, the trading volume of its rented memberships was larger than any other clearing firm on the Chicago exchange.[6] Lakota Trading replicated that same business plan on many exchanges in the United States and also in London.[4] Fossett would later use those handsome revenues to finance his adventures.[1][11][8] Fossett said, "As a floor trader, I was very aggressive and worked hard. Those same traits help me in adventure sports."[6]

Fossett has said he did not participate in any of the "interesting things" he had done in college during his time in exchange-related activities: "There was a period of time where I wasn't doing anything except working for a living. I became very frustrated with that and finally made up my mind to start getting back into things."[4] He began to take six weeks a year off to spend time on sports and eventually moved to Beaver Creek, Colorado in 1990, where for a time he ran his business from a distance.[4] Fossett later sold most of his business interests,[1][13] although he maintained an office in Chicago until 2006.[4]

[edit] Personal life
Fossett has been married for almost 40 years to Peggy Fossett (Viehland), originally from Richmond Heights, Missouri.[9] They married in 1968 and have no children.[12][14] The Fossetts have homes in Beaver Creek, Colorado and Chicago and a vacation home in Carmel, California.[13][9][6]

Fossett became well-known in the UK for his friendship with billionaire Richard Branson, who calls Fossett "half-human" and has financed some of Fossett's adventures.[1]

[edit] Records

[edit] Overview
Steve Fossett is well-known for his world record-setting adventures in balloons, sailboats, gliders, and powered aircraft. He is an aviator of exceptional breadth of experience, from his quest to become the first person to achieve a solo balloon flight around the world (finally succeeding on his sixth attempt, in 2002) to setting, with co-pilot Terry Delore, 10 of the 21 Glider Open records, including the first 2,000 km Out-and-Return, the first 1,500 km Triangle and the longest Straight Distance flights. His achievements as a jet pilot in a Cessna Citation X include records for U.S. Transcontinental, Australia Transcontinental, and Round-the-World westbound non-supersonic flights.[15] Prior to Fossett's aviation records, no pilot had held world records in more than one class of aircraft; Fossett holds them in four classes.[4]

In 2005, Fossett made the first solo nonstop and unrefueled circumnavigation of the world in 67 hours in the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer, a single engine jet aircraft.

In 2006, he again circumnavigated the globe nonstop and unrefueled in 76 hours, 45 minutes in the GlobalFlyer, setting the record for the longest flight by any aircraft in history[1] with a distance of 26,389 statute miles (42,469 km).

He has set 93 aviation world records ratified by Fédération Aéronautique Internationale,[16] plus 23 sailing world records ratified by the World Sailing Speed Record Council.

[edit] Balloon pilot
On February 21, 1995, Fossett landed in Leader, Saskatchewan, Canada, after taking off from South Korea, becoming the first person to make a solo flight across the Pacific Ocean in a balloon.[17]

In 2002, he became the first person to fly around the world alone, nonstop, in a balloon. He launched the 10-story high balloon Spirit of Freedom from Northam, Western Australia, on June 19, 2002 and returned to Australia on July 3, 2002, subsequently landing in Queensland, Australia. Duration and distance of this solo balloon flight was 13 days, 8 hours, 33 minutes (14 days 19 hours 50 minutes to landing), 20,626.48 statute miles (33,195.10 km).[17] The balloon dragged him along the ground for 20 minutes at the end of the flight. The control center for the mission was located in St. Louis, Missouri. Fossett's top speed during the flight was 186 miles per hour over the Indian Ocean. Only the capsule survived the landing; it was taken to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, where it was to be displayed next to Charles Lindbergh's plane Spirit of St. Louis.[18] The trip set a number of records for ballooning: Fastest (200 miles per hour/322 km, breaking his own previous record of 166 miles per hour/270 km), Fastest Around the World (13.5 days), Longest Distance Flown Solo in a Balloon (20,482.26 miles), and 24-Hour Balloon Distance (3,186.80 miles on July 1).[19]

While Fossett had financed five previous tries himself, his successful record-setting flight was sponsored by Bud Light.[18] Fossett said that he hoped his flight would inspire others to achieve their personal goals in their own lives.[18]

In the end, Fossett actually made money on all his balloon flights; he bought a contingency insurance policy for $500,000 that would pay him $3 million if he succeeded in the flight, and along with sponsorship, that payout meant that in the end, Fossett did not have to spend any of his money other than for initial expenses.[4]

[edit] Sailor
Steve Fossett has been one of the world's most accomplished sailors. Speed sailing is Fossett's speciality and from 1993 to 2004, he dominated the record sheets, setting 23 official world records and nine distance race records. He is recognized by the World Sailing Speed Record Council as "the world's most accomplished speed sailor."[1]

On the maxi-catamaran Cheyenne (formerly named PlayStation), Fossett has twice set the prestigious 24 Hour Record of Sailing. In October 2001, Fossett and his crew set a transatlantic record of 4 days 17 hours, shattering the previous record by 43 hours 35 minutes — an increase in average speed of nearly seven knots.

In early 2004, Fossett, as skipper, set the world record for fastest circumnavigation of the world (58 days, 9 hours) in Cheyenne with a crew of 13. Both the Transatlantic and Round the World records have been superseded by Bruno Peyron on Orange II. As of 1997, Fossett held the world record for crossing the Pacific Ocean in his 125-foot sailboat, the PlayStation, which he accomplished on his fourth try.[6][13]

[edit] Airship pilot
Fossett set the Absolute World Speed Record for airships on October 27, 2004. The new record for fastest flight was accomplished with a Zeppelin NT, at a recorded average speed of 62.2 knots (115.0 km/h, 71.5 mph.) The previous record was 50.1 knots (92.8 km/h, 57.7 mph) set in 2001 in a Virgin airship. Fossett is one of only 17 pilots licensed to fly the Zeppelin in the world, as of 2006.[4]

[edit] Fixed-wing aircraft pilot

[edit] Global Flyer
Fossett at NASA Kennedy Space Center's Shuttle Landing Facility seated in the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer cockpitFossett made the first solo non-stop fixed-wing aircraft flight around the world between 28 February 2005 and 3 March 2005. He took off from Salina, Kansas and flew eastbound, with the prevailing winds, returning to Salina after 67 hours, 1 minute, 10 seconds, without refueling or making intermediate landings. His average speed of 342.2 mph (550.7 km/h) was also the absolute world record for "speed around the world, non-stop and non-refueled." His aircraft, the Virgin Atlantic Global Flyer, had a carbon fiber reinforced plastic airframe, with a single Williams FJ44 turbofan engine. It was designed and built by Burt Rutan and his company, Scaled Composites, for long-distance solo flight. The fuel fraction, the weight of the fuel divided by the weight of the aircraft at take-off, was 83 percent.[20][21][22]

On February 11, 2006, Fossett set the absolute world record for "distance without landing" by flying from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, around the world eastbound, then upon returning to Florida continuing across the Atlantic a second time to land in Bournemouth, England. The official distance was 25,766 statute miles (41,467 km) and the duration was 76 hours 43 minutes.

The next month, Fossett made a third flight around the world in order to break the absolute record for "Distance over a closed circuit without landing" (with takeoff and landing at the same airport). He took off from Salina, Kansas on 14 March 2006 and returned on 17 March 2006 after flying 25,262 statute miles (40,655 km).

There are only seven absolute world records for fixed-wing aircraft recognized by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale and Fossett broke three of them in the Virgin Atlantic Global Flyer.[23] All three records were previously held by Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager from their flight in the Voyager in 1986. Fossett has contributed the Global Flyer to the Smithsonian Institution's permanent collection.[24] It is on display at the Udvar-Hazy Center of the Smithsonian's National Air & Space Museum. Fossett flew the plane to the Center and taxied the plane to the front door.[4]

[edit] Transcontinental aircraft records
Fossett set two U.S. transcontinental fixed-wing aircraft records in the same day. On February 5, 2003, he flew his Cessna Citation X jet from San Diego, California to Charleston, South Carolina in 2 hours, 56 minutes, 20 seconds, at an average speed of 726.83 mph (1169.73 km/h) to smash the transcontinental record for non-supersonic jets.

He returned to San Diego, then flew the same course as co-pilot for fellow adventurer Joe Ritchie in Ritchie's turboprop Piaggio Avanti. Their time was 3 hours, 51 minutes, 52 seconds, an average speed of 546.44 mph (879.46 km/h), which broke the previous turboprop transcontinental record held by Chuck Yeager and Renald Davenport.

Fossett also set the east-to-west transcontinental record for non-supersonic fixed-wing aircraft on 17 September 2000. He flew from Jacksonville, Florida to San Diego, California in 3 hours, 29 minutes, at an average speed of 591.96 mph (952.67 km/h).

[edit] First trans-Atlantic flight re-creation
On 2 July 2005, Fossett and co-pilot Mark Rebholz re-created the first nonstop crossing of the Atlantic which was made by the British team of John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown in June 1919 in a Vickers Vimy biplane. Their flight from St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada to Clifden, Ireland in the open cockpit Vickers Vimy replica took 18 hours 25 minutes with 13 hours flown in instrument flight conditions. Because there was no airport in Clifden, Fossett and Rebholz landed on the 8th fairway of the Connemarra Golf Course.[4]

[edit] Glider records
The team of Steve Fossett and Terry Delore (NZL) have set ten official world records in gliders while flying in three major locations: New Zealand, Argentina and Nevada, USA. An asterisk (*) indicates records subsequently broken by other pilots.

Distance (Free) World Record 2192.9 km, 4 December 2004).[25]
Triangle Distance (Free) World Record* 1509.7 km, 13 December 2003).[26]
Out and Return Distance (Free) World Record* 2002.44 km, 14 November 2003).[27]
1500 Kilometer Triangle World Record 119.11 km/h (74.02 mph), 13 December 2003.[28]
1250 Kilometer Triangle U.S. National Record 143.48 km/h (89.51 mph). Exceeded world record by 0.01 km/h, 30 July 2003.[29]
750 Kilometer Triangle World Record* 171.29 km/h (106.44 mph), 29 July 2003.[30]
500 Kilometer Triangle World Record* 187.12 km/h (116.27 mph), 15 November 2003.[31]
1000 km Out-and-Return World Record* 166.46 km/h (103.44 mph), 12 December 2002.[32]
1500 km Out-and-Return World Record* 156.61 km/h (97.30 mph), 14 November 2003.[33]
Triangle Distance (Declared) World Record* 1502.6 km, 13 December 2003.
Out-and-Return Distance (Declared) World Record* 1804.7 km, 14 November 2003.
Fossett and co-pilot Einar Enevoldson flew a glider into the stratosphere on August 29, 2006. The flight set the Absolute Altitude Record for gliders at 50,727 feet (15,460 m).[34] Since the glider cockpit was unpressurized, the pilots wore full pressure suits (similar to space suits) so that they would be able to fly to altitudes above 45,000 feet. Fossett and Enevoldson had made previous attempts in three countries over a period of five years before finally succeeding with this record flight. This endeavor is known as the Perlan Project.

[edit] Cross-country skiing
As a young adventurer, Fossett was one of the first participants in the Worldloppet, a series of cross country ski marathons around the world. While he had little experience as a skier, he was in the first group of 'citizen athletes' to participate in the series debut in 1979. And in 1980, he became the eighth skier to complete all 10 of the long distance races, earning a Worldloppet medallion. He has also set cross-country skiing records in Colorado, setting an Aspen to Vail record of 59 hr, 53 min, 30 sec in February 1998, and an Aspen to Eagle record of 12 hr, 29 min in February 2001.[4]

[edit] Mountain climbing
Fossett is a lifelong mountain climber and has climbed the highest peaks on six of the seven continents.[6][11] In the 1980s, he became friends with Patrick Morrow, who was attempting to climb the highest peaks on all seven continents for the "Seven Summits" world record (which Morrow did achieve in 1985). Fossett accompanied Morrow for his last three peaks, including Vinson Massif in Antarctica, Carstensz Pyramid in Oceania, and Elbrus in Europe.[4] While Fossett went on to climb almost all of the Seven Summits peaks himself, he declined to climb Mount Everest in 1992 due to asthma.[4] He also later returned to Antarctica to climb again.

[edit] Other accomplishments
Fossett has competed in and completed premier endurance sports events, including the 1,165 mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, in which he finished 47th on his second try in 1992 after training for five years. He became the 270th person to swim across the English Channel on his fourth try in September 1985 with a time of 22 hours, 15 minutes.[17][6][4] Although Fossett said he was not a good enough swimmer "to make the varsity swim team", he found that he could swim for long periods.[4] Fossett has run in the Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii[9] (finishing in 1996 in 15:53:10),[35] the Boston Marathon, and the Leadville Trail 100, a 100-mile Colorado ultramarathon which involves running up elevations of more than 14,000 feet in the Rocky Mountains.[6][8]

Fossett had raced cars in the mid-1970s and later returned to the sport in the 1990s.[4] He competed in the 24 hours of Le Mans road race twice, in 1993 and in 1996,[10][11] along with the Paris to Dakar Auto Rally.[6]

[edit] Previous attempts at records
Fossett tried six times over seven years for the first solo balloon circumnavigation. His fifth attempt cost him $1.25 million of his own money; his sixth and successful attempt was commercially sponsored.[18] One unsuccessful balloon flight ended when Fossett plummeted five miles into the Coral Sea off Australia.[24] Two of the attempts were launched from Busch Stadium in St. Louis, and Washington University in St. Louis served as control center for four of the six flights, including the record-breaking one.[9]

In 1998, one of the unsuccessful attempts at the ballooning record ended with a five-mile plummet into the Coral Sea off the coast of Australia that nearly killed Fossett; he waited 72 hours to be rescued, at a cost of $500,000.[9][36][37] The first attempt began in the Black Hills of South Dakota and ended in New Brunswick 1800 miles later. The second attempt, launched from Busch Stadium, cost $300,000 and lasted 9,600 miles before being downed halfway in a tree in India; the trip set records at the time for duration and distance of flight (with Fossett doubling his own previous record) and was called Solo Spirit after Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis.[9][6] Fossett slept an average of two hours a night for the six-day journey, conducted in below-zero temperatures. After taking too much fuel to cross the Atlantic Ocean and circling Libya for 12 hours while officials decided whether or not to allow him into their airspace, Fossett did not have enough fuel to finish the flight. That year, Fossett flew farther for less money than better-financed expeditions (including one supported by Richard Branson) in part due to his ability to fly in an un-pressurized capsule, a result of his heavy physical training at high altitudes.[6] The Solo Spirit capsule was put on display at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum across from the Apollo 11.[6]

After making an unscheduled landing in a plane, Fossett once walked 30 miles for help.[8]

[edit] Awards and honors
In 2002, Fossett received aviation's highest award, the Gold Medal of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) and in July 2007, he was inducted into the Aviation Hall of Fame.[1] He was presented at the ceremony by Dick Rutan.

In 1997, Fossett was inducted into the Balloon and Airship Hall of Fame.[4] In February 2002, Fossett was named America's Rolex Yachtsman of the Year by the American Sailing Association at the New York Yacht Club.[13] He was the oldest recipient of the award in its 41-year history, and he was the only recipient to fly himself to the ceremony in his own plane.[13]

He received the Explorers Medal from the Explorers Club following his solo balloon circumnavigation. He was given the Diplôme de Montgolfier by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale in 1996. He received the Harmon Trophy, given annually "to the world's outstanding aviator and aeronaut", in 1998 and 2002. He received the Grande Médaille de l'Aéro Club de France and the British Royal Aero Club's Gold Medal in 2002. He received the Order of Magellan and the Médaille de l'Aéronautique République Française in 2003.[4]

Fossett has also received numerous awards related to his work with the Boy Scouts of America, where he has been called a "legend" among fellow scouts.[38] In 2007, Fossett succeeded Secretary of Defense Robert Gates as president of the National Eagle Scout Association. Fossett is a longtime member of the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America[7] and a former member of the World Scout Committee.[4] Fossett has received both the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award and the Silver Buffalo award.[7] He is also a member of the Order of the Arrow, the Boy Scouts' honor society.[7]

[edit] Disappearance and search
Further information: Disappearance of Steve Fossett
Wikinews has related news:
Adventurer Steve Fossett missingIt was initially believed he might be examining the many flat playa areas of Nevada.At 8:45 am, on Monday, September 3, 2007, Fossett took off in a single-engine Bellanca Super Decathlon airplane from a private airstrip known as Flying-M Ranch ( 38°36′13″N, 119°00′11″W), near Smith Valley, Nevada, 30 miles south of Yerington, near Carson City and the California border. It was initially believed that Fossett was searching for a suitable lake bed for a world land speed record attempt.[39]

By September 10, search crews had found eight previously uncharted crash sites,[40][41] some decades old,[42] but none related to Fossett's disappearance. About two dozen aircraft were involved in the search. Satellite imagery was also used to assist in the search.[43][44] Survival experts hosted by news organizations, CNN and MSNBC, reported on September 12 that Fossett was likely to be dead.[45]

On October 2, the Civil Air Patrol announced it had called off its search operation.[46] However privately funded and directed search efforts continue, including the use of a dedicated jet aircraft from High Altitude Mapping Missions Inc. to produce images at significantly higher resolution than available from satellites.

On 26 November 2007 Mrs. Fossett filed a petition in Cook County, Illinois' Circuit Court to have Steve Fossett declared legally dead.[3]

[edit] See also
Steve Fossett was one of the world's great millionaire daredevils, a man whose family learned over the course of the years to never give up on his quests. But now, at last, they have. His wife firmly believes her husband perished in a plane crash in a remote area of Nevada last September and she's asked a court to declare him legally dead.

The airborne adventurer took off in a private plane September 3rd and never returned. He didn't have a parachute and took no supplies with him. An onboard transponder didn't register his location. Endless searches failed to find any trace of him, but his supporters maintained the 63-year-old is a survivalist who could have managed to go on despite the odds.

But after so many months, so many searches and no results, even his own family has come to realize that trip was his last. Peggy Fossett wants the court to declare her husband dead, so the family can get access to his "eight figure" assets.

"As painful as it is for Mrs. Fossett, other members of the family and his many friends, it is time to initiate this process," explains attorney Michael A. LoVallo. There's no evidence the famed daredevil could have faked his own demise. "Fossett did not have any reason to disappear," the petition filed with the court maintains. "Fossett was happy and passionately involved in his pursuit of adventure."

The motion officially ends any hope that the rich and rugged chance taker will return and his supporters have stopped updating his web page listing his accomplishments and the fruitless search to find him.

Fossett was known for trying just about anything that his money could buy. He survived a 30,000-foot plunge in a crippled air balloon, took a swim through a freezing English Channel, stayed in the water for hours with sharks all around, climbed mountains, flew around the world, completed Alaska's grueling Iditarod race, and set more than 100 aviation and distance records.

Ironically, his last flight was simply for pleasure. Contrary to initial reports, his staff now says Fossett was simply going for a quick jaunt over the desert and not scouting for any new record locations.


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