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Officials Confirm Wreckage is Steve Fossett’s Airplane

Steve Fossett
Steve Fossett

October 2, 2008 — The Bellanca Super Decathlon in which adventurist Steve Fossett (EAA 562868) went missing 13 months ago has been found near Mammoth Lakes, California, authorities confirmed Thursday morning. Madera County, Calif., Sheriff John Anderson announced at a press conference that wreckage had Fossett’s registration number, N240R. He also said there were no remains found at the crash site. The FAA’s fatal accident report issued Thursday morning also confirms the identification of the aircraft.

Search efforts for the wreckage intensified Wednesday after it was reported that hikers found several items appearing to belong to Fossett, including FAA Pilot Certificates bearing his name, about $1,000 in cash, and a weathered fleece pullover. An aerial search on Wednesday turned up what appeared to be wreckage of a plane, which was later confirmed as Fossett’s.

Fossett, who holds several world aviation records in balloons, jets, and gliders, took off on a pleasure flight from Barron Hilton’s Flying M Ranch on Labor Day morning, September 3, 2007, about 20 miles south of Yerington, Nev. When he failed to return, an unprecedented search effort ensued, led by the Civil Air Patrol, covering some 20,000 square miles. Smaller-scale searches were also made, the most recent in August this year.

Fossett was declared legally dead by a Cook County (Illinois) judge in February 2008.

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