His single-engine jet-powered experimental plane touched down at the Salina Municipal Airport on Thursday in a smooth landing about 67 hours after he left the same strip on Monday night.

A high school band, dozens of journalists and hundreds of spectators were at the airport to watch the landing, along with Virgin Atlantic chief Richard Branson, who paid for the project.

The final day of Fossett's flight was dogged by an unanticipated fuel shortage that for a time jeopardised its completion.

Fuel concerns

Project director Paul Moore said fuel somehow leaked or more fuel was consumed than was realised early in the flight, leaving Fossett with barely enough to get across the Pacific.

At one point a landing in Japan was under consideration, but the ground team decided to risk a Pacific crossing at least to Hawaii.

Fossett made it there with no problems and, thanks to a continuing tail wind, crossed the California coast earlier in the day and on to Kansas under power.

Record-breaker

Fossett, 60, also the first to make a solo balloon trip around the world non-stop, has claimed a number of air, land and sea records.

While he made the trip alone at the controls, it did not count as a world record for circumnavigation, the Paris-based Federation Aeronautique International had said in advance.

Jeana Yeager and Dick Rutan hold that mark for the first non-stop, unrefuelled global flight in 1986 with a nine-day circumnavigation covering 26,366 miles.

Fossett's team, however, had said they hoped to qualify for distance and speed records, which remain to be certified.