- February 27, 2008, 5:39 AM
An Illinois county circuit judge approved a petition February 15 to declare Steve Fossett legally dead. The aviator and adventurer has been missing since September 3, when he failed to return after a flight over the Nevada desert. Authorities searched for Fossett and his American Champion Decathlon for nearly a month but called off the search on October 2. Fossett’s wife, Peggy, filed a petition on November 26, asking the court to declare him dead. Fossett made the first solo nonstop airplane flight around the world, set numerous transcontinental and glider records and made six attempts at the first solo balloon circumnavigation. He was inducted into the Aviation Hall of Fame last June.