Charlie Riedel/AP
September 04, 2007 03:00 PM

A plane flown by adventurer Steve Fossett has been missing since Monday night, federal aviation officials say.

“The Civil Air Patrol is looking for him. One problem is he doesn’t appear to have filed a flight plan,” Ian Gregor, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman in Maryland, told the Associated Press.

A massive rescue mission involving 13 aircraft doing “grid” searches over hundreds of square miles in western Nevada in progress to look for Fossett. At the moment, the rescuers are being impeded by the high winds in the area, but if they worsen, the weather conditions could hinder the search, Maj. Cynthia S. Ryan of the Civil Air Patrol said at a press conference Tuesday.

Ryan added that it is “not uncommon” for no flight plan to be filed out of a private airstrip – “especially if you don’t plan on going far” – and conditions were optimal Monday.

Fossett, 63, took off from a private airstrip known as Flying M Ranch, 30 miles south of Yerington, Nev., at about 9 a.m. local time Monday, with enough fuel for four to five hours of flight, but plans to return by noon, according to the Civil Air Patrol. The search for him and his aircraft – a blue and white Citabria Super Decathalon single-engine aircraft with orange stripes and blue sunburst designs on top of the wings – began at 6 p.m.

The “well-known, durable” airplane is capable of aerobatic maneuvers, which Fossett is not a fan of, Ryan said.

In 2002, Fossett became the first person to fly solo around the world in a balloon. Three years later, he became the completed the first solo, non-stop, non-refueled airplane trip around the world.

He’s credited with 115 world records or world firsts, and holds official world records in five sports, according to his Web site.

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