This just in: Some human remains found at the crash site.
Search teams have found the wreckage of the plane piloted by missing adventurer Steve Fossett, who vanished more than a year ago, Madera County, Calif. Sheriff John Anderson said Thursday.
An aerial search late Wednesday spotted the wreckage in the Inyo National Forest near the town of Mammoth Lakes, Anderson said at a news conference, and searchers confirmed it was Fossett’s single-engine Bellanca plane.
This story from the BBC quotes a crash searcher saying no body was found at the crash site.
San Francisco Chronicle reports on where the guy who found Fossett’s pilot’s license was hiking:
The confirmation came three days after Preston Morrow, the manager of Kittredge Sports in Mammoth Lakes, found Fossett’s pilot’s license, a glider license and a membership card for the National Aeronautic Association while day-hiking with Kona, his Australian shepherd mix, in the forest.
Morrow, 43, said today that he started his hike at Devil’s Post Pile and took the Minaret Lake Trail up into the mountains. He was hoping to reach an abandoned mine, but it got late and he gave up.
I suspect this is the mine in question.
Educated guess: the plane was found somewhere in the area of this map:
I’ll hunt up some more links this morning, such as:
National Transportation Safety Board press release — the air safety agency is sending an investigator to the scene today.
Reader John Soares wonders: Could he have attempted to parachute out? According to the tail tag number from the NTSB release, this is the plane:
Plane image from this site.
It’s conceivable he could’ve jumped, though the incredible turbulence over those mountains would’ve made the attempt precarious indeed. It seems more likely that the impact of the crash threw his body clear, and after that, well, nature probably took its course, to put it delicately.
(Off topic: Soares has an excellent hiking blog for the Shasta-Trinity region of northern California).
Chicago magazine printed a fascinating Fossett profile back in March. A clip:
He also nearly killed himself—again and again. While climbing Mount Olympus, he slipped near the summit, rocketing toward a cliff, desperately digging an ice ax into a smooth, snow-covered slab to stop the slide. When he did at last find purchase, the lower half of his body dangled over the side of the cliff like a comic book hero at the end of a white-knuckle thriller. Swimming the English Channel, he stayed in the water so long— 22 hours, 15 minutes—that he suffered hypothermia, a cracked rib, and so much saltwater in his lungs that the pH of his blood was more fish than human. On one of his balloon trips, a lack of fuel caused him to ditch in India, where he banged into a forest of 50-foot trees, then bounced into a small village. He emerged from his capsule to find himself worshiped as Hanuman, the Monkey God.
The capper came in August 1998, when he was trying yet again to circle the globe in a balloon. Sailing along at a jetliner’s cruising altitude of 29,000 feet, having traveled more than two-thirds of the way to his goal, he found himself drifting into a line of dark clouds just off the eastern coast of Australia. Suddenly, hail. Lightning. Violent winds. His balloon ruptured, and he plummeted toward the shark-infested Coral Sea. He opened up his burners. He cut away propane tanks to slow the fall. Still, he hurtled down, through the hail and lightning and thunder. The capsule plunged into the water, briefly knocking him out. It rolled over and began filling with water. He came to and scrambled into a raft under storming skies so dark he could not see to activate his locator beacon. Seventy-two hours later, a French military plane rescued him and an astonished world marveled that again he had survived.
Underscoring how hard it is to find anything lost in the high Sierra, an Esquire reporter recalls how he went looking for plane wreckage — GPS coordinates in hand — and fund nothing.
National Geographic Explorer also weighed in on the hunt for Fossett.