James Stephen Fossett (April 22, 1944 – September 3, 2007) was an American businessman and a record-setting aviator, sailor, and adventurer. He was the first person to fly solo nonstop around the world in a balloon and in a fixed-wing aircraft. He made his fortune in the financial services industry and held world records for 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 set more than one hundred records in five different sports, sixty of which still stood at the time of his death. He broke three of the seven absolute world records for fixed-wing aircraft recognized by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, all in his Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer. In 2002, he was awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Aero Club of the UK, and was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 2007.

Among the long list of Steve Fossett’s exploits, there is a particularly striking one whose anniversary celebrate today: on 3 March 2005, he became the first man to fly solo around the world, unrefuelled.

Departing from and arriving back in Salina, Kansas, USA, the American pilot circled the earth on board the Virgin Atlantic “Global Flyer” aircraft. The plane was built by Rutan’s Scaled Composites, the same company that constructed Voyager, the first aircraft to fly around the world unrefuelled in 1986. However, the differences between these two flights were substantial: Global Flyer was a single-seater, in contrast to Voyager which was designed for a crew of two. It was a turbofan-powered airplane, which made Fossett’s flight last only 2 days and 17 hours – a short trip compared to the nine days needed by Voyager to achieve the same flight.

With this flight, Steve Fossett broke the Speed around the world, non-stop and non-refuelled (550.78 km/h), the Distance (32’786.43km) and the Distance over a closed course (36’898.04 km) records. It was made under the scrutiny of two observers from the NAA (National Aeronautic Association of USA) stationed at Salina Airport. They proceeded to a series of verifications, checked the progress of the plane and after the landing inspected the fuel tank seals and retrieved flight recorder data. They also gathered all necessary documents and certified that the NAA and FAI regulations were satisfied.

According to .en.wikipedia.org; fai.org. Source of photos: internet