New York, Feb 16 : Self-made millionaire adventurer Steve Fossett has been declared dead by a Chicago judge, five months after his plane disappeared.
The 63-year-old daredevil went missing on September 3 after taking off in a single-engined plane from a Nevada airstrip and was never seen again.
His wife, Peggy, petitioned a Chicago court to make his death legal after months of search failed to produce any signs of wreckage.
The judge heard testimony from Peggy, and a family friend, as well as from a search-and-rescue expert, before deciding there was sufficient evidence to declare him dead.
Fossett was a record-setting balloonist, sailor and pilot who completed non-stop flights around the world.
"It was very sad and at first she hoped and sort-of envisioned him walking down the road the next day with another story to tell," the New York Post quoted Peggy's lawyer, Michael LoVallo, as saying.
"But as the days went on, she realised it wasn't going to happen as it had on other occasions when he'd had close calls," LoVallo added.