September 5, 2007 in Nation/World

Millionaire adventurer missing

Sandra Chereb Associated Press
 

MINDEN, Nev. – Millionaire adventurer Steve Fossett, who has cheated death time and again in his successful pursuit of aviation records, was missing Tuesday after taking off in a single-engine plane the day before to scout locations for a land-speed record, officials said.

Teams searched a broad swath of rugged terrain in western Nevada near the ranch where he took off, but searchers had little to go on because he apparently didn’t file a flight plan, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman said.

Fossett, the first person to circle the world solo in a balloon, was seeking places for an upcoming attempt to break the land speed record in a car, said Sir Richard Branson, the U.K. billionaire who has helped finance many of Fossett’s adventures.

The 63-year-old took off alone at 8:45 a.m. Monday from an airstrip at hotel magnate Barron Hilton’s Flying M Ranch, about 70 miles southeast of Reno. A friend reported him missing when he didn’t return, authorities said.

Thirteen aircraft were searching for Fossett in addition to ground crews. The terrain of the search area is varied, ranging from high deserts with dry lake beds and sagebrush to rugged mountain peaks.

Authorities stressed that they are considering their efforts a rescue mission.

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