Steve Fossett held dozens of world records in numerous categories of speed and distance, and became known worldwide for his adventures in balloons, sailboats, and aircraft; he was also a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and a member of the Explorers Club. He carefully compiled a library which was a reflection of his own pursuits. Each book had to fulfill one criteria: “Man’s willful determination to go beyond his borders and confines, and conventions, for science, adventure, gain, celebrity, or even out of sheer contrariness, by land, sea or air.”
Fossett is perhaps best known for his aeronautical feats and accomplishments. In 2002, he became the first person to circle the globe, uninterrupted, in a balloon, a voyage which took 13 days, 8 hours, 33 minutes and which covered 20,626.48 statute miles. In February 2006, sponsored by the Virgin Group, Fossett completed the “ultimate flight,” piloting the Virgin GlobalFlyer for the longest uninterrupted and unrefueled aircraft flight in history, covering 25,766 miles.
His library includes some of the most important books describing the history of aeronautics and aviation. Faujas de Saint-Fond’s work describing the first aerial voyage, completed by Montgolfier in June of 1783, is the first contemporary chronical of the voyage, and the first serious treatise on aerostation as a practical possibility (Lot 6). The library also includes a treatise by Dr. John Jeffries, considered the first American to fly (Lot 10).
Steve Fossett broke records of speed and distance as a sailor and was one of the sport’s most prolific distance record holders; he was recognized by the World Sailing Speed Record Council as the “world’s most accomplished speed sailor.” Between 1993 and 2004, he set 23 official world records and 9 distance race records. In early 2004, Fossett and his crew of 13 set the around the world sailing record of 58 days, 9 hours.
He collected works in the fields of circumnavigation and yachting, including 18th– and early 19th-century accounts of voyages around Australasia, the Pacific Northwest, and the Arctic. His library also includes landmark works about voyages by sea devoted to the discovery of the Northwest Passage and the North Pole. Sir John Ross described his first attempt to discover the North West Passage in A Voyage of Discovery… published in 1819. (Lot 121)