Millionaire adventurer Steve Fossett’s plane discovered by hikers in California

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.”

[From People]

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.

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21 Responses to “Millionaire adventurer Steve Fossett’s plane discovered by hikers in California”

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  1. caffie says:

    Okay, it’s like this… and God forgive me if I’m wrong… but… assuming the man died in the crash… and even assuming some animal did whatever with his remains, wouldn’t they find SOMETHING? Some sliver of evidence that a human had perished in this crash? Makes ya’ kinda wonder if he did in fact fake his own death. :roll:

  2. Codzilla says:

    caffie: Yeah, I was wondering that, too. You’d think there would be a few shreds of clothing or something left. I’m not much of a conspiracy theorist, but this seems really strange.

  3. tvf says:

    It’s not unusual for someone to disappear in the wilderness and never be found. If you really want to get creeped out, google Michelle Vanek.

  4. KDRockstar says:

    It was Bigfoot, I tell ‘ya.

  5. Kristin says:

    @ Caffie:

    actually, seeing as his remains were in a forest, the weather (like high winds, rain and snow in the mountains) and animals alone would be able to completely destroy or hide the remains. its not at all unlikely that they won’t find them. if his plane caught fire, then his remains might be completely obliterated anyway.

    not finding a body doesnt necessarily mean they never died. a few episodes of the new detectives on investigation discovery can show you that.

  6. Syko says:

    I just kept hoping he’d jump out from behind a tree and yell “Fooled you!”

  7. anony says:

    Was he having any financial trouble? It would be easy for someone with his means and contacts to ‘disappear’. I say this only as the infamous British father who was in the news not so long ago left on a canoe trip and never came back. Years later it was discovered he orchestrated the whole deal and his wife was in on it! She pretended he was dead and even told his sons he was gone and then they met up in South America and tried to set up a new life with the insurance payouts! Amazing story I wish I remember his name. Anyway… couldn’t imagine losing a husband who disappeared into thin air. A lot like Olivia newton John’s long term partner who left on a boat trip and never came back. Not a trace. Scary.

  8. geronimo says:

    anony – canoe man is John Darwin, but you left out the most bizarre part of that story. For at least two years, when he was supposedly dead and she had told their sons he was dead, he was living, with her knowledge, in the house next door to her and the boys.

  9. Kaiser says:

    Man, it really sounds like his wife doesn’t want to give back that insurance money, doesn’t it?

  10. CC says:


    They will at least find teeth or bones somewhere. A wolf could have taken them and buried them but they are around.

  11. Zoe says:

    Meybe he survived the crash and tried to hike out but didn’t make it.

  12. Nova says:

    You would think that he would have put some emergency equipment in the plane to have with him in case of a crash. Seems to me he got out of the plane and maybe wondered off to try to find safety…Sadly, they will probably find his body somewhere in the area.

  13. CiCi says:

    that michelle vanek story IS creepy. i can’t help but seriously wonder why those strange people in the woods were ruled out. why? what’s even scarier is that it goes to show that creepy antisocial loonies DO live out in the remote wilderness, and it’s not just lore. i mean, wtf?!

  14. elisha says:

    Hey everyone, I covered this on our morning show. The plane slammed into the side of a mountain. The impact was so severe, there’s no way he could have lived. So for you conspiracy theorists, I guess he would’ve had to parachute out before the plane crashed. As for his remains, there are tons of bears in the Sierras. I’ve even seen a couple just walking around in residential areas there. I saw the cutest baby bear stuck in a dumpster once(surrounded by cops trying to help him out.) I’m willing to bet there’re mountain lions too. CC, er, not so sure on the wolves.We have coyotes in NorCal, though.

  15. Hollz says:

    CNN just reported that human remains have been found in/around the site of the crash

  16. Codzilla says:

    Hollz: Seriously? Damn. I was having fun imagining the possibilities.

    Anyway, it’s a terrible thing that he died. Condolences to his family and friends.

  17. cally says:

    Just heard on the news they did find body parts in the wreckage. Poor guy, RIP

  18. SolitaryAngel says:

    Yeah, RIP… :roll:
    It’s sad that he died out there all by himself; but then again, he knew the risks. Doesn’t make it any less painful though.

  19. vdantev says:

    Why does everyone act surprised when some under qualified millionaire pilot daredevil wrecks his plane? Same with JFK Jr. was the money supposed to save him ?

  20. Jeanne says:

    Sounds like Fossette was on a suicide mission due to money troubles.
    What an honest hiker to turn in that money.

  21. Mike says:

    Smoke and mirrors. He had a professional pilot baby sitting him along the way. too bad he wasn’t there to save him on that fateful day….