In the quiet hours, his talk occasionally lost its exuberance and he became sad, regretting the passage of time, but like Denys he kept horror at bay by relentless adventuring.
The "he" is a British settler and soldier in Kenya, Tich Miles of Cole's Scouts, during the grueling and often forgotten East Africa campaign of World War One. "Denys" is Denys Finch Hatton, and the line comes from Sara Wheeler's new biography of Finch Hatton, Too Close to the Sun.
As I read that chapter, the search for Steve Fossett is still ongoing. Things don't look good at this point. Could that sentence just as well apply to him?