Skip to main content
Home World U.S. Weather Business Sports Analysis Politics Law Tech Science Health Entertainment Offbeat Travel Education Specials Autos I-Reports
Technology News

No stopping adventurer from breaking records

Adjust font size:
Decrease fontDecrease font
Enlarge fontEnlarge font

(CNN) -- Adventurer Steve Fossett doesn't mind going it alone -- in fact going solo has helped him break and set records in sailing, aviation and ballooning.

In 2002, he achieved the first solo balloon flight around the world, traveling 20,626 miles in 14 days. In 2005, he completed the first solo, non-stop, non-refueled airplane trip around-the-world in the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer. A year later he used GlobalFlyer again to break the world's flight distance record, traveling more than 26,000 miles in 76 hours.

He's recently wrote a book about his life's passion for breaking world records in a book titled "Chasing the Wind." Technology Producer Peggy Mihelich talked with Fossett about his achievements and what his plans are for the future.

MIHELICH: How has technology helped you break so many records?

FOSSETT: In the solo balloon project and also in the GlobalFlyer project we had to advance technology in order to do the around-the-world trips.

In balloons, we had to nearly quadruple their capability. We also had to add an auto pilot, the first auto pilot in balloons.

The GlobalFlyer technology was a new level of lightweight construction in airplanes.

This airplane was capable of carrying 82 percent of its takeoff weight as fuel -- which is unprecedented. This was achieved because of the technology and design that went into the airplane.

The GlobalFlyer was also an excellent demonstration of fuel efficiency and reliability of jet engines. My jet engine was not only fuel efficient it was reliable enough that I could plan on flying non-stop around the world without a significant risk of engine failure.

MIHELICH: Will GlobalFlyer technology end up in commercial airplanes of the future?

FOSSETT: GlobalFlyer is more of a demonstration so that the airline industry can see how much more can be done with efficient design.

MIHELICH: What more is possible in aviation and ballooning -- have you gone as far as you can go?

FOSSETT: We don't take these steps frequently. The record before GlobalFlyer had stood for 20 years. Improvements will be made but they come very slowly.

In balloons, now that the around-the-world flight has been done there's not a lot of motivation right now to take it beyond what I had done.

MIHELICH: What's your greatest passion?

FOSSETT: Gliders, I love flying them. I've been intensely involved in setting and breaking gliding records for the past 4 years.

At the end of August I flew a glider into the stratosphere to conduct scientific, metrological research. I flew down into the Polar vortex -- the winds that circulate Antarctica at high speed and high level and are very much involved in the Ozone hole. Being able to fly into the Polar vortex opens up possibilities of additional research into the Earth's climate.

And I'm going to Argentina this week for a month to try and get the fastest of the glider records. I already have the altitude record and now I want to get the fastest speed record for gliders.

MIHELICH: Any other records you are eyeing?

FOSSETT: I'm working on breaking the land speed record. I want to drive a car faster then has ever been done. The car has a single jet engine which in after burner has 45,000 horsepower. I will need to drive it supersonic in order to break the existing record which is 763 miles an hour.

The hardest part will be keeping the car on the ground when it goes trans-sonic. We are designing very high speed wheels made of solid carbon. I'm also revising the cockpit to utilize safety features found in Indy car racing.

MIHELICH: What speed do you hope to reach?

FOSSETT: I hope to break 800 miles an hour.

MIHELICH: How long will it take to reach 800 miles an hour?

FOSSETT: It will take about 40 seconds.

MIHELICH: Does the car have a name?

FOSSETT: The tentative name is SonicAreo.

MIHELICH: Will you conduct some test runs?

FOSSETT: Yes, I'll be testing in Nevada in July 2007 and go for the record in the fall.

MIHELICH: You recently penned your autobiography, tell me a little about it?

FOSSETT: It's called "Chasing the Wind." Many people over the years have told me I should write a book. In the past I kind of just told my story to friends at a cocktail party. It was important to tell the really good stories and talk about the major projects I've been involved in.

I hope the book will stimulate people to think about what more they can do. Everyone should figure out what they are most interested in, and make a plan to pursue those goals.

MIHELICH: What record-breaking feat has been your personal favorite?

FOSSETT: The first solo around-the-world balloon flight. We had to really upgrade the technical capability of balloons and the flight was much more difficult then I'd ever imagined it would be.

I tried six times over the course of six years before succeeding.

MIHELICH: Where does your adventurous spirit come from?

FOSSETT: The boy scouts. When I was 12 years old I climbed my first mountain, and I just kept going, taking on more diverse and grander projects.

MIHELICH: You seem fearless, does anything scare you?

FOSSETT: Yes, lots. In fact I don't like to be scared. I think I'm a risk adverse person, which might sound very strange because of the sports I'm involved in. What I do is try and reduce the risk. I don't do any of this for the thrills. I'm doing them for the personal achievement.

MIHELICH: How long will you keep at this?

FOSSETT: I imagine that when I'm 80 years old and sitting in a wheelchair that I might do something like take a remote control airplane and try and flight it around the world.

I plan to be setting and breaking records indefinitely.

Follow Related Topics

Search TopicE-mail Alerts

Adventurer Steve Fossett holds distance and speed records in ballooning, aviation and sailing.



Quick Job Search
  More Options
International Edition
CNN TV CNN International Headline News Transcripts Advertise with Us About Us Contact Us
© 2007 Cable News Network.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
SERVICES » E-mails RSSRSS Feed PodcastsRadio News Icon CNNtoGo CNN Pipeline
Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by
Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more