Steve FossettUntil STEVE FOSSETT, a hot-air-balloon ride seemed like a serene activity for surveying pastoral landscapes, best undertaken with foie gras and a fine wine. But the Chicago millionaire has turned ballooning into an endurance sport requiring deprivation and a ground crew. Since 1998, the adventurer has tried to complete the first solo circumnavigation of the globe by balloon. After five attempts— most of which ended abruptly in large bodies of water—he made it. But by staying far south, he shortened what would have been a nearly 25,000-mile journey at the equator to 19,428 miles.

He spent 15 days in freezing cold, breathing through an oxygen mask and using a bucket as a toilet, before alighting in Queensland, Australia, where he dispensed with fine wine and guzzled a Bud Light. Even a millionaire needs endorsements.

Steve Fossett Balloon

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