back to article Fossett 'may never be found'

A police officer involved in the search for adventurer Steve Fossett - who went missing last Monday after taking off from hotelier Barron Hilton's Flying M Ranch, roughly 70 miles southeast of Reno, Nevada - has admitted he "may never be found", the BBC reports. Forty-five aircraft have scoured an area of 10,000 square miles in …


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  1. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. Lazylobster

    ELT Anyone

    Most aircraft are kitted out with an ELT (emergency Locator Transmitter) Which sends out a distress signal on 121.5 MHZ. I'm surprised of the aircraft was not fitted with this device ?

  3. Andy

    Flight plan?

    I don't mean to be insensitive, but am I right in thinking that he didn't file a flight plan? Isn't that sort of rule number one?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Flight 19

    Remind me again, how many planes were mysteriously lost on Flight 19 in 1945? Reportedly in the Bermuda Triangle, so could they have made it to Nevada?

    So, there were 5 planes in Flight 19. Fossett would make number 6. I suppose the fly boys have been down to check these six other aircraft.....

  5. pctechxp

    6 other crashed aircraft

    Yep, the world cares more about the hideously rich than anyone else but even so, I wouldn't wish anything bad on anyone unless you're a sicko who rapes, murders or messes with kids of course, these people deserve to be left for dead.

    I do hope they find the guy alive.

    However, not sure how you can compare this to a cartoon though.

  6. Mark G Forbes

    Lots of downed planes in Nevada

    There are hundreds of planes known to have been lost in Nevada. Many

    have never been found. In the course of doing *this* search, they've found

    some wrecks that were not previously known. For each of these newly

    discovered sites, investigators are being sent in to gather information

    and identify the aircraft. Families will be notified of the findings. Bodies

    are unlikely, given the time since the crashes and the scavengers that

    inhabit the deserts and mountains. It's a *very* remote part of the world.

    It's a big search, for a famous person. Other people are searched for too,

    but if they're not found after a few weeks of looking, the safe assumption

    is that they're beyond help and no further organized effort is justified.

    Searching is not without risk; if there's a chance of recovering a pilot

    alive, that's one thing. It's quite another to put a lot of pilots at risk looking

    around for a dead body.

    This past weekend climbers on Mt. Hood here in Oregon were up looking for

    the bodies of two guys who were lost on the mountain last winter. They're

    pretty sure they know where they were, but the crews didn't find any sign

    of the bodies. They may never be found. They're looking now because it's

    late in the season and the snowpack has melted back far enough to

    possibly reveal the bodies.

    A paraglider pilot I knew some years back was lost in the Alps, when he

    went off for a flight and disappeared. We organized a search for him, but

    after a week or so of no trace, it was clear that wherever he was, he was

    beyond our help. Nothing has ever been found of him or his wing, but I

    expect that someday a climber or hiker will come across his remains.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mechanical Turk search

    Steve Fossett Missing: Help find him by searching satellite imagery

  8. This post has been deleted by its author

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Obviously they didn't give a shit about the other people. It's amazing what effect a bit of money has."

    I imagine they did 'give a shit' about them, but just didn't find them at the time and have since found them.

    "Most aircraft are kitted out with an ELT (emergency Locator Transmitter) Which sends out a distress signal on 121.5 MHZ. I'm surprised of the aircraft was not fitted with this device ?"

    It was, but it wasn't set off.

    "I don't mean to be insensitive, but am I right in thinking that he didn't file a flight plan? Isn't that sort of rule number one?"

    Not really, no. There was no requirement to file a flight plan for what he was doing.

  10. Lickass McClippers


    There's a wee bit of assuming that the 6 other founded aircraft weren't looked for when they initially went down. The report, along with others I've read, don't necessarily suggest one way or the other. It is entirely possible that unsuccessful searches were conducted for these 6 other aircraft...

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Missing nuke

    Apparently (it must be true, it's on the Internet), the whole thing is just a cover-up for a search for the missing nuke.

  12. Nick

    Beam me up.

    I wonder if he strayed into Area 51 and was 'vaporised'. Either that, or ET beamed him up to probulate him for information on all the special aircraft/spaceships he's developing.

  13. Ross Fleming Silver badge

    RE: Missing nuke

    Just checked out that website about the missing nuke. It's made my day. I'll be revisiting it whenever I think I'm going crazy, feeling a bit paranoid etc just to reassure myself that I'm a loooooong way down the scale from those levels...

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Difficult to locate

    The plane was made of steel tube and fabric. Often planes will catch on fire if they crash. Everything on the plane burns up except the steel tubes and engine, leaving dark charred remains that can be very difficult to notice in an air search. The emergency locator batteries and antenae can melt, making it useless.

    If this is what happened, the chances of never finding the plane is possible.

    There are many crash sites over the years in the western mountains that have never been located.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Do you think that maybe he might have planned this?

    No flight plan...

    Skilled adventurer...

    Flew a plane around the world on 1 tank...

    Something does not sound right here

    Maybe something bad happened in his life where someone was looking for him and he had to disappear.

    I donno, maybe not but it seems odd...

    [plus he had only so much gas, there is only a certain radius he could fly in.]

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Difficult to locate

    I can't believe some of the comments that have been posted. I live very close to where this man flew out of. I'm in the same county. What people seem to fail to realize is that Nevada is full of mountains with snow still on them. Nevada not only has a lot of desert but is also ski country. Where the CAP believes Mr. Fosset was flying was near large mountains. I have a friend who flys for the CAP. They have flown a lot of hours looking for this man, and sadly have not been able to find him. It isn't that they are looking because Mr. Fossett has money, it's because he's a human being, and is out there somewhere. The CAP looks for anyone that has been involved in a missing plane incident. Some of the aircraft that have been found are from very old crashes. Some were not notated properly and that is why they appeared to be unknown. If it were your family, I'm sure you'd feel much differently about how long they search. I'm sure Mr. Fossett's family and friends are grateful.

  17. A. Merkin

    Google Cookies to the Rescue

    Check his cookies for Google maps/Google Earth. Prolly took a gander at the prospects he was going to fly over...

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE: why?

    "Do you think that maybe he might have planned this?"

    Oh great, another conspiracy theory nutter...

    As much of an experienced pilot as he is, you never know what the conditions are going to throw at you when you are flying. It tends to be the more experienced pilots who get in trouble, because they get a bit more complacent and cut their margins a bit too close.

  19. Chris Hann

    How ridiculous

    There was no flight plan because they aren't required.

    The aircraft was fitted with an EPIRB, however they are not crash worthy and the old 121.5MHz ones are not good at providing a decent homing signal, so they are being replaced with 406MHz EPIRBs with built in GPS receivers. If he ran into a mountain at 120kts there's a good chance that there's nothing recognizable of the EPIRB the aircraft was carrying.

    How ridiculous to say this has anything to do with the Bermuda triangle, it's well over 2,000 miles away! If they'd found a bunch of old WWII aircraft scattered around don't you think they might have mentioned that.

    If you had been there you'd understand how harsh and remote this area is. I was there on the Saturday before he vanished, just where they are searching now between Bodie CA and Hawthorne NV, I followed 4 Corners road through a vertical sided canyon for five miles before I had to give up at a series of land slides that might have turned me into a statistic too. Nobody had driven that road in weeks. If he'd crashed his little plane somewhere like that he could be overlooked for years. Nobody walks these areas, few people drive them. This isn't like searching Bedfordshire or Northumberland. I have driven US6, just south east of where he took off, for hours without seeing anyone else, no other traffic, no houses, NOBODY. And that's a main road.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Funny how the US can take satellite imagery detailed enough to read newsprint over people's shoulders everywhre in the world, but is unable to find an aviation pioneer inside its own borders ...

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Search area

    The 10,000 sq mile search area is larger than the UK.

    The UK is 94,525.5305 sq miles (this includes Rockall and Shetland Islands)

    The aircraft is the size of a large automobile, and it can be down in a forest, in the mountains and broken pieces.

    Care to have a go at it?

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't be see quick to dismiss it all

    I don't know about Steve Fossett, but sounds like a massive area to search especially with no sign of a transponder signal (odd that), maybe he crashed?

    That website article seems like a stretch, it would take some serious incompetence to be true, however reality can be stranger than fiction, so who knows.

    If you want a corker of a conspiracy have a look at the documentary film "America (Freedom to Fascism)", by Aaron Russo, the issues describe already affected other countries e.g. Iraq, yes for money, but not just from oil. Quite a rabbit hole!

  23. tony trolle


    ok start checking those satellite pics only a few hundred , thats your share. :P

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Satellite imagery

    "Funny how the US can take satellite imagery detailed enough to read newsprint over people's shoulders everywhre in the world, but is unable to find an aviation pioneer inside its own borders ..."

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

    I have to assume that's a joke, right?

    I mean, you don't actually believe what you see in the movies do you?

  25. Martin Usher

    Its not money, its technology

    The people doing the searching are using some new imaging equipment that looks for plane shaped objects of about the right size. This is why they're discovering stuff, its not because Fossett's rich and they were not. A lot of wrecks date back to WW2 -- we've got several in Los Padres National Forest that are inaccessible, they only got discovered by firefighters.

    Its easy to lose sight of the idea that America is a very big place and large parts of it are uninhabited. You don't have to go far from the freeway to get lost, in fact all you need to do is come off the road into the bushes at an intersection and you can be trapped for days. (After a fire in the Santa Monica mountains a car with a couple of skeletons were found that had been missing for decades -- and that's in a relatively populated part of the world).

    One way to get really messed up while flying over the deserts is to get sucked into a cloud. You can fly under a big one without noticing it and once its got you its really difficult to get free of the updraft. This may have happened to Steve Fossett, in which case the bits could be just about anywhere.

  26. Steven Cuthbertson

    Wrong Units

    10000 sq miles is a square 100 miles on a side. A tad smaller than the UK, methinks...

  27. Carl

    Re: Search area

    10,000 sq miles is not bigger than the UK -- by your figures it's about a tenth of the area of the UK.

    10,000 sq miles is 'only' an area 100 mi x 100 mi

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Search area

    "The 10,000 sq mile search area is larger than the UK.

    The UK is 94,525.5305 sq miles (this includes Rockall and Shetland Islands)"

    How exactly did you figure that 10,000 sq miles is a larger area than 94,525 sq miles? By my and anyone else's maths thats a shade over 1/10th the area.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE: Search Area

    You do really need to brush up on your maths. 10,000 sq mi > 94,000 sq mi????

    Don't think so, not even if you compare US miles to UK miles. Only out by close on an order of magnitude.

    Doesn't alter the fact that a brave, fearless adventurer may have met his end in the most (comparatively) trivial of circumstances.

    And it also doesn't alter the fact that looking for the wreckage in that sort of area and terrain is serious needle/haystack stuff

  30. Charles Manning

    Not easy to find

    Even though 10,000 sq miles is far smaller than the UK (a factor of 9 or so), it is still a very large area (a circle of radius approx 58 miles). Crash into/under a tree and there's nothing left to find.

    A few years ago, my brother discovered a plane that had crashed in the Drakensberg (South Africa). The crash area was pretty well known (within approx 5 miles or so) and a significant search effort found nothing, though helicopters flew within a few hundred metres of the crash site.. My brother discovered the crashed plane more than a year after the crash. It was up a rvaine, but otherwise clearly visible from the air.

    That just shows that a search effort is easily thwarted.

    Still, Fossett has absolutely no excuse to have got lost like this. He knew better (well should have!) and there is absolutely no reason to make flights without taking some precautions.

  31. Joseph Vreeeland

    Why doesn't NASA get involved?

    Why not some infra-red imaging from a satellite or a spy plane?

    Surely Fosset is worth it.

  32. Joseph Vreeeland

    To: Mr. Finnbar: I don't agree with you assessment of spy optics

    Imagery science has certainly advanced a lot further than the days of the first shuttle by NASA. (1981: Columbia's first flight: )

    The first one lost about 5,000 of the approximately 24,000 tiles on the fuselage/wings/empennage and NASA used the Mauna Loa/Hilo look-up telephoto abilities to enumerate which ones were missing. The short blurb of that ability..and remember that this was quite a few years ago...was quashed almost as fast as it was broadcast. But...NASA could see the ablating tiles that were ultimately 6 inches by 5½ inches in size.

    That's impressive for the date. Imagine what they CAN see today.

  33. gollux

    Reality of searching for airplane crashes

    1) 121.5 MHz ELT's are generally know as hard landing detectors. The time spent hunting down which hangar contains the beaconing ELT has been an amusing way to spend an afternoon for many a CAP patrol. In mountainous terrain, the signal bounces too efficiently causing hotspots that are highly misleading. They also depend on external antennas that may not survive being scrubbed off the airframe. If the airplane burns, you might only have minutes before the unit is incinerated.

    2) Rattling on about using hight technology that is capable of detecting "airplane shaped objects" is pretty telling, You've never had to search for a Cessna tinfoil ball in mountainous terrain. A tube frame Aeronca or Bellanca just might have enough of the "airplane shaped object" left over if it lands just right but controlled flight into terrain also says that it probably won't survive in much of its original shape either. You might be better off looking for burned, dark sooty areas that contrast against a lighter background.

    3) Depending on where this thing landed, it may be covered by overgrowth. Two of the searches I was involved with were not solved by ELT direction finding or aerial searches. One was solved because a sheriff's deputy had an aha moment and drove directly to the crash site where he found the burned pine tree and undergrowth that the plane landed in after clipping a tree 60 feet off the ground. The other where the ELT actually activated was found because someone noticed a churned patch of brush above a road with upon closer inspection, the remains of a Mooney that had flown under full power into the hillside. ELT signal was being wave guided to a major hotspot 5 miles from where the person totally uninvolved with the search found the plane.

    4) Its the small, familiar things that do us in. Steve flew around the world after much planning in known dangerous conditions. He knew the life threatening risks involved and took precautions. And a short jaunt in the back yard scouting around proved to be much more dangerous than all that had passed before. He didn't file a flight plan that day because it was simple, routine flight which, barring mechanical failure, seemingly held little more risk than flying from one airport to another only 30 miles away. Just like you don't plan on dieing just from a simple drive down to the supermarket.

  34. Dave Sparrow

    OT: US miles and UK miles

    "...even if you compare US miles to UK miles"

    I thought they were the same!

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Still, Fossett has absolutely no excuse to have got lost like this. He knew better (well should have!) and there is absolutely no reason to make flights without taking some precautions."

    Would you like to tell us what precautions he should have taken that you know he didn't?

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re : "Mr. Finnbar: I don't agree with you assessment of spy optics"

    "That's impressive for the date. Imagine what they CAN see today."

    So what you mean is, you don't know, so you're going to guess that they really CAN do what you've seen in the movies? Just because it had that resolution 25 years ago MUST mean that it's now better? Why? Perhaps that WAS the limit of the resolution?

    When the electron microscope was developed, some thought it only a matter of time before we'd be able to look at magnifications in the tens of millions. We can't. Why? BECAUSE THERE'S A LIMIT TO THE RESOLUTION. Duh!.

    I can imagine I'm invisible and can fly too, but it doesn't make it true.

    Of course, if you are an expert in spy satellite optical equipment, feel free to divulge all.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How come

    .........why didnt anyone mention that fact the Aliens took him and thats why there is no trace?

    ...............did, you not see that docu-rama called "Close Encounters of The Third Kind"

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