Thursday, September 06, 2007
Great Article on Steve Fossett
No matter where he pitches up on the globe, Steve Fossett has always managed to phone home. Steve Fossett's life has become one long adventure. With the aid of his satellite mobile, Fossett has rung his long-suffering wife of 39 years, Peggy, from Bournemouth, having just completed the first solo non-stop flight around the world…from Tanzania where he had climbed Kilimanjaro…from a Royal Australian Air Force rescue helicopter which had lifted him to safety from the Coral Sea where sharks and saltwater crocodiles were queuing up for lunch…from Boston where he had run the marathon…from Le Mans where he had completed the 24-hour car race…from Calais where he had swum the English Channel…from the frozen wastes of Alaska where he was competing in a 1,165-mile dog-sled race…from every remote outpost you can think of where they stage ballooning, 'iron man' triathlons, cross-country skiing marathons or whatever.
Alarmingly for his family and friends, such as Sir Richard Branson who describes his close pal as "the world's greatest living adventurer", not a word has been heard from Fossett since his private plane went missing over the Nevada desert on Monday. Having set 116 world records or 'firsts' in the air and on water, he was looking for a suitable stretch of land on which to challenge the world land-speed record.
Part Christopher Columbus, part Charles Lindbergh and part Phileas Fogg - the 63-year-old Chicago billionaire financier was the first man to circumnavigate the world single-handedly in a balloon - I last interviewed Fossett during a brief lull in his activities in 2000 when he told me: "There is still something very, very romantic about going round the world, either by plane, boat or balloon - and I am very much a romantic."
Perhaps it was his failure to win a place on his school swimming or cross-country teams that explains his craving to test the outer limits of human endeavour. "As a boy, I always read biographies of the great adventurers. I kind of grew up on National Geographic with its accounts of fantastic adventures. Maybe that's why I climbed my first mountain at the age of 11. My own adventures have gradually taken over my life. This is what primarily I do, much more so than business." Read on.