Fossett, a 63-year-old holder of several aviation and sailing records, vanished with his aircraft after taking off from a private airstrip in western Nevada, one of the most remote and uninhabited regions of the continental United States, on September 3.

An exhaustive search failed to find any wreckage.    

British entrepreneur Richard Branson, who teamed with Fossett on some ventures and underwrote his successful global plane flight, said in September Fossett was scouting dry lake beds as locations for a future attempt to set a world land speed record.




Fossett, who earned his fortune as a financial trader, became the first person to fly a balloon solo around the world in 2002 and in 2005 achieved the first solo non-stop flight around the world in the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer aircraft.


Last year Fossett flew solo in the GlobalFlyer to set the absolute non-stop distance record for any aircraft and set a new glider world altitude record with co-pilot Einar Enevoldson.


Fossett also competed in endurance competitions, swam the English Channel and set numerous world records in sailing.