Over a year ago, millionaire/adventurer Steve Fossett, best known for his world record voyages around the world in hot air balloons, boats and glider planes, went missing after taking off in a small aircraft in Nevada. After months of searching, and even speculation that Fossett had faked his own death, it is now believed that he died in a plane crash after hikers stumbled upon the plane this morning in Medera County, California. While Fossett’s remains were not found at the crash site, a number of personal belongings and identification were.
Authorities said Thursday morning that the wreckage initially spotted by aerial searchers is the plane piloted by missing adventurer Steve Fossett, not seen since he took off from an airstrip at an isolated ranch in the Nevada desert some 13 months ago.
CNN announced Thursday’s confirmation. No human remains were found.
“They did locate an aircraft which we have now confirmed is the one Steve Fossett was flying when it disappeared last Labor Day,” Madera County, Calif., Sheriff John Anderson said at a press conference.
The news comes after hiker Preston Morrow said that on Monday he found three identification cards bearing Fossett’s name and $1,005 cash in a bush just west of the town of Mammoth Lakes.
“It was just weird to find that much money in the backcountry, and the IDs,” said Morrow. “My immediate thought was it was a hiker or backpacker’s stuff, and a bear got to the stuff and took it away to look for food or whatever.”
Morrow’s discovery made Fossett’s widow, Peggy Fossett, optimistic that closure was a possibility. In a statement Wednesday, she said. “I am grateful to all of those involved in this effort.”
In 2002, Fossett became the first man to successfully fly solo around the world in a hot-air balloon. Fossett was close friends with fellow rich adventurer, billionaire Richard Branson. The two had a friendly competition for years over which one of them could pull off the most dangerous circumnavigation. Fossett’s wife had him declared legally dead back in February, but had hoped that she would someday find closure on her husband’s disappearance. It looks like she will finally get that closure: officials have fanned out from the crash site in hopes of finding Fossett’s remains.
Photo below credit: Bart Nagel via Boing Boing.