JAMES STEPHEN FOSSETT (1944-2007)
Inducted November 2, 2019
An Entrepreneur & Adventurer, Steve Fossett was born in Jackson, Tennessee in April 1944 and grew up in Garden Grove, California. He was educated at Stanford University, where he obtained his Bachelor’s Degree, and received his Master’s Degree from Washington University in St. Louis. He made his fortune in the field of investment and commodities trading.
As a young man, he was very active in Boy Scouts of America and attained the Rank of Eagle Scout. He was often quoted as saying Boy Scouts had a profound impact on him as a young man and guided him thru adulthood.
After attaining great financial success in business, Steve began engaging in his passion of setting various records through adventures and aviation. In 2002, he was the first person to complete a solo, nonstop, circumnavigation of the world in a hot air balloon, a feat for which he is most famous. In 2005, he was the first person to fly an airplane solo around the world non-stop and non-refueled, covering 23,000 miles in 67 hours. He also set a World record for the highest altitude attained in a glider (57,671 feet) and three World records for the longest distance traveled by a glider.
During his life, he completed more than 116 adventure-records in five different sports (fixed-wing aviation, balloons, airships, cross-country snow skiing and sailing). Steve Fossett has to his name 91 world records in aviation, and 36 still remain unbeaten to date. He also successfully climbed the highest peaks on 6 of the 7 continents of the World, missing only Mt. Everest due to an asthma attack.
Fossett was known to say that he did not like risks – and he knew that would sound strange coming from him. However, he said what he tried to do was reduce risk with careful planning, technological development and the help of the best scientists and experts. He also said he did not do extreme sports because of the excitement, but for the personal success.
He died in September 2007, when the Super Decathlon he was piloting vanished while flying over the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
In July 2007, Fossett was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame. In 2010, he was posthumously inducted into the International Air & Space Hall of Fame.
For extraordinary achievements in aviation for Tennessee, our nation and the world, James Stephen Fossett is posthumously honored by and inducted into the Tennessee Aviation Hall of Fame this 2nd day of November 2019.