Search for Steve Fossett continues

by Leanne Greg
NBC News

A search is underway for famed aviation adventurer Steve Fossett.

Fossett took off from a private air strip on the ranch of his friend, hotel magnate Barron Hilton, Monday morning and did not return as scheduled that afternoon.

The search resumed Wednesday at sunup after gusty winds and rugged terrain hampered Tuesday efforts.

Officials hope winds will be calmer.

"We still consider this an active search and rescue operation and shouldn't be considered any other way until we get additional information," said the Civil Air Patrol's Cindy Ryan.

Fossett was flying a single engine Bellanca Super Decathlon, a small plane capable of performing aerobatic stunts.

Friends said Fossett was scouting locations to attempt to break a land speed record in a car.

It would add to his dozens of famed accomplishments.

Five years ago Fossett was the first person to fly around the world alone in a balloon.

Three years later he made the first solo, non-stop flight around the world in an airplane.

Fossett also swam the English Channel,  raced in the Iditarod dog sled competition, and broke records in everything from sailing to snow skiing.

There have been many close calls, like one nine years ago when an attempt to circle the globe in a balloon ended with a crash and sea rescue near Australia.

Those who know him said Fossett's persistence and resilience are reasons for hope that he's still alive.