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CAP Calls Of Search For Steve Fossett

Steve Fossett

October 4, 2007 — The Civil Air Patrol ended its nearly month-long search for record-setting aviator Steve Fossett, EAA 562868, on October 2 after covering some 20,000-square-miles of rugged, high-desert terrain in Nevada and California. One of the largest, most intensive searches ever for a missing aircraft involved CAP wings from Nevada, California, Utah, Idaho, Oregon, Colorado, New Mexico and Texas.

"The Civil Air Patrol joins the rest of the aviation world and admirers worldwide in its disappointment in not locating Steve Fossett," said CAP's acting national commander, Brig. Gen. Amy S. Courter. "This remarkable man showed us what grit and determination are all about. In his life, he chased and shattered world records, floating and flying farther and faster than anyone before. His adventures are many and his accomplishments profound. We regret that those adventures may have come to an end."

The search for Fossett began Sept. 4, a day after he failed to return to Barron Hilton's Flying M Ranch's private airstrip near Yerington, Nevada. CAP members devoted more than 17,000 man-hours both on the ground and in the air, flying CAP 629 flights totaling 1,774 flying hours. Others participating in the futile search included representatives of the Nevada Army and Air Guard, the Nevada Office of Emergency Management and Department of Public Safety. In addition, CAP worked closely with local law enforcement agencies and massive private resources from both the Flying M Ranch and the Fossett family, but to no avail.

"This is a testament to the unforgiving terrain comprising the search area," said search leader Lt. Col. E.J. Smith of Nevada Wing Headquarters. "The combination of high altitude, thick forest and mountainous terrain proved to be unconquerable during this particular search operation."

Courter stressed that CAP could be asked to assist once again should new information become available. Fossett, a longtime EAA member, set several unique aviation records over the past 15 years and has been a frequent visitor to EAA AirVenture through the years. This past year he spoke at Theater in the Woods about the record-setting altitude flight of the Perlan glider. (Hear the presentation.) He also flew the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer to Oshkosh in 2005 after that aircraft completed the first around-the-world, non-stop solo flight. In 2002, Fossett became the first man to fly around the world in a balloon. He was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame this past July.

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