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Steve Fossett hasn't abandoned his quest to circle the globe non-stop in a hot air balloon -- and hopes the third try will be a charm.

Fossett, a 53-year-old Chicago securities trader, has attempted the feat twice before. The adventurer -- who has competed in Hawaii's Ironman Triathlon and has swum the English Channel -- says getting the aviation feat done is his top priority.

"I won't run out of ideas, but this is a major objective and I think it's perhaps the greatest exploration that hasn't been done on Earth," Fossett said Thursday.

His last attempt, in January, ended when he ran out of fuel and touched down in a mustard field in rural northeastern India, startling villagers who initially took him and his silver balloon for a monkey god in a floating temple. A storm cut short his first attempt, in January 1996.

Fossett said he plans to launch his balloon, the Solo Spirit, either in late December or early January from St. Louis.

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