back to article Steve Fossett may be alive, investigator claims

Adventurer Steve Fossett, who has not been seen since last September after flying off into the skies above Nevada, may have faked his own death, investigators have claimed. Despite a massive search for Fossett and his Bellanca Citabria Super Decathalon, no trace of either has ever been found. Lieutenant Colonel Cynthia Ryan of …


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  1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    Very confusing...

    "...We found six other planes while we were looking for him. We're pretty good at what we do."

    They accidentally found six other planes which they could not find when they were searching for them on purpose. Is that a definition of being good at what they do???

    So, perhaps they should look for someone else in order to find Fosset's plane?

  2. Michael Miller

    We will soon learn the truth.

    Steve Fossett is BigFoot!

    ...mine is the furry one covered in leaves....

  3. Pete Silver badge

    No evidence, so accident more likely

    If I was a zillionaire and wanted to fake my death, I wouldn't be worried about the value of one crummy little plane. I'd make sure the wreckage was found (added points for a body burnt beyond recognition/DNA matching). However, with the amount of money he had, I seriously doubt that even the best auditor could spot a few mil. missing from anywhere in the estate - especially if SF had time to prepare things.

  4. Dave

    Does his widow

    Rent bedsits in the house next door?

  5. Steven Griffiths
    Dead Vulture

    "We're pretty good at what we do"

    We found six other planes while we were looking for him.

    Can't be that fucking good then eh? Otherwise you'd have found the others when they went missing.

    So it's more like "We're pretty good at what we do when it's someone famous we're looking for, otherwise we generally don't give a shit."

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ah yes!

    mmmm could be right,

    I have been asking for ages why he was looking for new land speed records sites, what's wrong with the existing ones. It just seems to be a pretty lame excuse to head off into the wilderness on your lonesome.

    Hope they find him alive and well.... then nail him to the mast for fraud.

  7. Si Lo

    Well this is

    Much less ridiculous than conspiracies suggesting he was shot down over Nellis AFB!

  8. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects
    Black Helicopters

    Easy come easy go.

    How come they only managed to find the other planes after mounting a fearsome effort on the part of moneybags?

    They couldn't have been that well hidden could they? Or did those crooks also do a pretty good job of hiding their trails even though they were not so rich?

  9. Beelzeebub
    Paris Hilton

    I haven't seen him...

    ... and he sure as hell isn't up there!

    Paris because she appears to be sad about it.

  10. G R Goslin


    It would seem to me to make more sense to check whether funds had disappeared before he vanished, than afterwards. Going back several years, if necessary.

  11. Hollerith

    now if he disappeared while canoeing...

    ...we'd be keeping a beady eye on the widow and a JPG-watch on photos on the web for photos involving real estate promotions.

  12. mike wardle

    At least he isnt french

    So when he turns up in Hartlepool they wont hang him.

  13. Chris

    Canoe with wings

    "We found six other planes while we were looking for him. We're pretty good at what we do."

    As I'm sure people said a few months ago - clearly they're not, if they initially missed those other 6.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    I've lost all hope in the CSI series. :'(

    I would have thought that Grissom and his team of super experts would have found something by now.

  15. Mac
    Black Helicopters

    No cash trail because

    "None of Steve's wealth was transferred out or withdrawn in any manner that would suggest a planned disappearance. Steve has not accessed any of his assets since his disappearance."

    Perhaps because he's living in a bedsit next door to his missus accessed by a secret door which he bolts through when ever the rozzers come to the door!

    Nah, too ridulcuous to be true ;)

  16. Gareth Irwin

    Something is not right

    'It's not like we didn't have our eyes open. We found six other planes while we were looking for him. We're pretty good at what we do'

    That would be it then, a sentence that does not add up.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    found six other planes?

    Nobody was looking for them before now because they weren't being flown by Fossett.

    Their owners' estates should be fined for "flying while not a millionaire." (Not unlike Driving While Black.")

    Hackneyed cliché: Paris, because she would never fly while not a millionaire.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "six other planes"

    "We found six other planes while we were looking for him"

    Surely the fact that those six planes had never been found before suggests there's a chance they may have missed Fossett's aircraft too.

  19. Michael Jones

    Howz about..

    Seaton Carew or Panama. I'd search them first.

  20. Joel

    Surely not!

    Someone faking their own death for an insurance payout? I don't believe it! That would be like someone paddling off in a canoe and not coming back... Completely unlikely.... No chance....

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    We're pretty good at what we do

    So why didn't they find those 6 planes when they searched for whoever was lost flying them? Kind of blows her argument out of the water. Maybe they'll just find Fossett's when they go looking for someone else.

    Happens all the times when I've lost my keys - find something else I thought I'd lost...

    Paris - cos I wish she was faking her own death...


  22. Mal Franks

    Have investigators tried

    Searching Panamanian websites for him yet?

    I'll get my canoe.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Quite right.

    He's living on the moon with Elvis.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'll take "Losers" for ten please, Bob.

    IF John Darwin = "Canoe" AND Steve Fossett = "Light Aircraft" THEN Gordon Brown = "British Economy".

  25. John Macintyre


    having just had canoe man sentenced to prison in the uk this guy keeps the conspiracy of death faking alive.

    "Steve has not accessed any of his assets since his disappearance"

    So he wasn't a dumbass and probably had 2 accounts then eh? not unusual.... I do like the investigator though:

    "I don't really care if he is alive or dead, it make no difference to me"

    That's what I like to see, someone who has no affiliation, who focuses on the facts. I'd mention Grissom but I know half of you will cringe and flame me with FAKE, but you get my drift. Will keep on eye on this one for curiosity sake

  26. Jeff Rowse

    Was Clive Cussler right?

    Is there a secret group of American millionaires living in a snug little moonbase, just waiting for Dirk Gently^H^H^H Pitt to find them?

  27. Uwe Dippel
    Paris Hilton

    Faked or not faked

    I am talking completely not out of my head, but I do agree, it is suspicious. When you know someone left with a plane, and neither ever shows again, and you have combed the area 10m times, and found a lot of condoms, even 6 other light planes, one can guess he never started. That pilot at Barron Hilton's Flying M Ranch is the first suspect, especially after that miserable first-time flight preparation story.

    Ask my old friend Columbo to have an interview with him.

    Paris, because maybe Fossett decided to fly there

  28. Liam


    "We found six other planes while we were looking for him. We're pretty good at what we do."

    in other words we are sooooo good we didnt find SIX PLANES the last time we looked...

    i wonder how hard they would look if i went missing rather than a multi-millionnaire!

    the 'i cant see it so its not there' argument is always flawed when using UK and US intelligence!

  29. Darling Petunia


    The wreckage of general aviation airplanes found while searching for Fossett had disappeared many years before and did not contain high profile occupants (less likely to have extraordinary search efforts).

    The tandem-seat American-Champion/Decathlon that Fossett was reportedly flying is a 'rag & tube' aircraft, sturdy, and built for aerobatics. However, if you drive one into the ground it will become a very small ball of chrome-moly tubes & poly-fabric.

    On the other hand, it is odd that I've not found reference to if/why such a pilot would be without the latest personal GPS enabled ELT. The aircraft should also have had an ELT, as is mandated for certified aircraft. Aircraft ELT's are designed to activate on impact in a crash.

  30. Curtis

    Publicity Stunt

    I see in September, he turns back up having been resuced by "little gray aliens" ho give him the technology to make Virgin Galactic work...

    ok, call me a cynic

  31. Tim Brown

    Give the search and rescue guys a break

    The comment about finding 6 other planes while searching for him, probably meant that they were involved in 5 other successful searches during the period they were still looking for him... not that they happened to stumble over 6 wrecks by chance!

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Hmmm

    >the 'i cant see it so its not there' argument is always flawed when using UK and US intelligence!

    No, that argument is, "I can't see it so it is there".

  33. Andrew Kaluzniacki

    Re the six other planes

    As I recall one was from the '50s and others had not been reported missing. Nevada is a big empty desert and one is not actually required to file a flight plan. So, unless one of the planes that they found had been searched for previously, it is really not indicative of incompetence.

  34. Anonymous Coward

    Fosset's Wife states that...

    .... "Steve has not accessed any of his assets since his disappearance.", but then, I'm guessing that she HAS, so that proves little to me. You only have to study [the] Darwin's theory of re-evolution, maybe Fosset is also up a creek without a paddle ;-D

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The six other planes

    Given that many of you failed to spot six identical comments, it's perhaps harder than you might think...

  36. Anonymous Coward

    little grey Aliens.....

    Oh you mean those slitty-eyed pale looking Aliens that keep being chucked out of the USA for spying and nicking industrial secrets.

    Sounds like they made him an offer he had no way of refusing.

    No doubt the chinese will unveil some super high tech fancy aircraft and space-craft in due course(which wil be years ahead of US current designs).




  37. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Amelia Earhart redux!!

    Only this time, without the Japanese. To be continued...

  38. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    If he had really wanted ...

    ... to convince everyone he had crashed, he would have used one of Kent Ertugrul's dodgy MIG's

    IT? : Because now Kent does dodgy IT, obviously, but could probably find SF if he is still alive.

  39. Peyton

    Just give it time

    If he's alive, he'll eventually show up in a shot on Google Street View.

  40. Richard Barclay

    one big mother of a desert

    I was driving with friends in the Mohave Desert (Joshua Tree Nat Park) the day Steve went missing and just amaized at the sheer space and emptyness of the place. The weather that day was +42C in the shade.

    The deserts in Califonia / Nevada / Arizona / Colarado is absolutely massive so loosing your self is not that hard, the Mohave is about half the size of England, so looking for one light aircraft that would have left an impact crater a few meters accross is a hard job at best.

    If there had been a fire then it might have been more obvious scorch marks for searchers, so my theory is Steve ran into engine problems because of a lack of fuel, the lack of a mayday (because of a loss of power) and locatable fire. If Steve did run out, he must have tried to land so my bet is that he took a chance at any reasonably flat strip of a few hundred yards long within gliding distance.

    I'd love to think that he made it but whats smooth desert terain at 1000ft pretty soon becomes a bolder field at 50, by which time with no power there is no chance to 'go around' so the landing was bound to be rough at best, I think your survival chances out in the desert (in full fitness on that day) are limited at best and if he sustained any kind of injury he would have succomed pretty quickly.

  41. Mike Moyle

    Errr... just a thought...

    To all of the "Well they didn't find those other planes before" posters:

    Did you consider the possibility that, in the months after Fossett disappeared, OTHER small private planes might have crashed and that the CAP just *MIGHT* have had *CONCURRENT* searches going on?

    Excerpted from Bloomberg:

    "Private, or general aviation, flights are 82 times riskier than commercial airline trips and represent the overwhelming majority of aviation crashes and casualties in the United States. (...)

    “In an examination of the crash risk of private flights, researchers found that general aviation flights averaged 1,685 crashes and 583 deaths each year from 2002 to 2005,"

    I'm trying to be generous and assume that most of the posters taking potshots at the CAP were being "clever" (i.e. - kneejerk cynical), rather than genuinely obtuse.

  42. Adam Williamson
    Thumb Down

    Six other planes?

    "We found six other planes while we were looking for him. We're pretty good at what we do."

    So that would be six other planes they...didn't...find...before?


  43. alphaxion


    Some of the planes discovered were from 50's and 70's crashes that went unsolved.

    Still, as others have pointed out the area he went down in is massive enough to cause 40 to 50 years delay between crash and discovery..

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Adam Williamson

    That's a good point, no-one seems to have noticed that yet.

  45. Pete James

    The bleedin obvious is out there

    Oh dear. As ever, lots of presumed guilt flying around here. I'm suprised no-one has yet stuck up a PShop'd image of the missing person yet in a Panama apartment.

    Maybe someone will wonder why this is being aired now the insurance companies, after gleefully raking in his premiums, are now going to have to stick to their part of the bargain. Or is the idea that isruance companies don't play fair a bit too much of a conspiracy thory for you all?

  46. Anonymous John

    "We found six other planes"`

    So? According to, there are many many more missing small planes.

    Mine's the one with Area 51 on the back.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    lol x 2

  48. yeah, right.


    Insurance companies will do ANYTHING to avoid having to pay out on insurance policies. Even trumping up fake evidence that someone faked their death.

    That's what they get paid to do. Make unfounded accusations of fraud in order to delay as long as possible having to pay anything out on insurance polices that people purchased in good faith.

    Insurance companies are scum.

  49. Martin Price


    Since everybody else is sticking it to CAP I'm going to go after the investigator instead. What the hell is so baffling about using a Super Decathlon? It's a marvellous aircraft for tooling around in, with docile handling and fantastic visibility, and it's designed and built with aerobatic training and competition in mind. It's a bloody strong plane. Even "easy to dismantle" is just a bit much - I'd want more than a multi-tool to take one apart and it would be a whole lot easier to just hide it in a hangar or shed somewhere.

    For a "man who deals in facts" he's coming up a little bit short here.

  50. Anonymous Coward

    Here's something that DOES add up


    "the only witness to his departure was a pilot at Barron Hilton's Flying M Ranch, southeast of Reno, who "claims Fossett asked him to prepare the plane for take off, even though he had never allowed anyone else to do this before"."

    Wait a sec: if you were carefully planning to fake your own disappearance, surely the LAST thing you'd do is depart from your normal routine. In fact, you'd *either* go out of your way to establish a routine and then follow it so people would say "he did nothing unusual"... or you'd carefully avoid establishing a routine that people could compare to.

    So really this so-called anomaly actually makes it LESS likely he's faking. Unless it's an elaborate double-bluff...

  51. Marty McFly Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Finding a plane in the Nevada desert...

    Google "Hunt for 928". Heck of an entertaining story about finding a CIA spy plane which crashed in the Nevada desert.

  52. Tom Silver badge

    They're looking in the wrong accounts

    check the civil air patrol ones - thats where the anomaly needs filling I bet.

  53. Patrick Ryan
    Dead Vulture

    Fossett's Disapearance

    When an aircraft crashes, the remains many times look more like a garbage pile than aircraft. Even more so with a lightly built plane like a Super Decathalon. I'm betting between that and the terrain it's in is what's making Fossett so hard to find.

  54. The Rock

    Jon B

    Indeed. LOL x 6. Ah ha ha ha.

  55. Jerry

    It's true...

    He is alive and well living in a menage a trios with Amelia Earhart and Elvis in the Bermuda triangle

  56. bluesxman

    @ Michael Duke

    Here here.

    (I don't actually know what you're banging on about, but I'm going to make out I do so that I look ded clevah)

    Hmm, that's a tad strange, you seem to have posted the same random comment more than once...

    ^^^ OK this one looks legit ^^^

    El Reg got a DB FUBAR? ... Or just a nut-job cross-posting? ;-)

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    E17 innit

    He'll be working nights in Bob's chip shop, Walthamstow. Along with Elvis, Jim Morrison and 'Lucky' Lucan.

  58. Campbell


    My guess is Michael is using HP Protecttools and he has opted for autologin. This same thing happened to me and whenever I tried to post an new comment on any article in Channel the stupid thing would login and repost the old comment before I could blink.

  59. Andy

    No Flightplan

    No doubt this is all tosh, but I've always wondered why someone so survival-conscious didn't file a flightplan.

    More than likely he did and the media reported it wrong...

  60. pctechxp
    Black Helicopters

    Black choppers alert

    I mention Steve Fossett in a comment and up pops this the next day.

    I reckon he got fed up of being asked by Sir Beardy and others to pilot plans/balloons or whatever for silly record attempts that he thought that faking his own death.

    bit drastic though, he could have always changed his home number/mobile (cell) number so Beardy couldn't phone him unless he was a virgin mobile subscriber that is.

    If that was the case could he not have just bought himself out of the contract?

    Mine's the one with I flew Ryanair and lived to tell the tale' on the back.

  61. Conor McKeown

    Where is Steve Fossett?

    Has anyone searched Hartlepool? Failing that, what about Panama?

  62. Nano nano

    "Steel and wood frame" ?

    Ideal for re-engineering into a kayak - or canoe, if you're a Mail/Sun reader ...

    If fact, that should be a ScrapHeap Challenge !

  63. pctechxp

    They should get

    Nordberg and Drebin on the case as they can be any worse that these buffoons and remember that Nordberg tracked down that panamanian ship

  64. John Ridley

    other missing planes

    IIRC, at least most of those other planes had been missing for decades - before the advent of satellite imagery for S&R operations. If they had gone down in the last 10 years they probably would have been found before now.

    Right after Fossett's disappearance they ran an online distributed eyeballs search of the satellite imagery, which I participated in. I don't think it's likely that they missed anything; even cars were easily visible, and the trees in the area weren't dense enough to have hidden a recently-crashed plane.

  65. PT

    Only six other planes?

    You have to live here to understand. Nevada is 35% bigger than England, Wales and Scotland put together, and consists mainly of trackless mountains and inaccessible desert valleys. It has a total population smaller than Manchester, of which 8 out of 10 live in two cities. It's quite possible to drive 100 miles or more in the back country without sighting a human habitation, and it can take days to hike off-road to look at something that may have been spotted from the air. There are ALL KINDS of things out there in the hills, from crashed B-52s to abandoned tanks, many having been found at one time and then lost again. So the thing that surprises me is that ONLY six other planes were found, and these may not have been "new", just forgotten.

    See <> for similar remarks.

  66. Wayne Sheddan

    Air & Space's take....

    From one of the best magazines on the planet:

  67. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    He's with Jimmy Hoffa...

    Having a drink with Amelia Earhart.

  68. Toni M. Bagley

    Joshua Tree National Monument Theory

    I live 20 miles from the Mojave Desert here in San Bernardino County, California, USA. Steve Fossett was at least 300- 400 miles north of here, and there are no dry lake beds for perusal in search of land-speed records amidst the Joshua Trees. Of course, we have the Rogers Dry Lake Bed, where I've seen the Space Shuttle land. But, those dry lake beds are a dime a dozen, and well-used already for land speed records. Joshua trees don't like to be crowded - there is at least 20 feet between each tree (required for survival in a parched land). Therefore, you could spot a 3" x 3" "Post It Note" on the ground from 500-1,000 feet. Fossett is not amidst the Joshua trees.

    I say grill the so-called "witnesses" to a greater degree. And Cynthia Ryan of the Civil Air Patrol, with her candor and recent elevation in rank, has been the only true, honest, forthcoming voice in this entire saga. She shoots from the hip. She even went so far as to accept the "something smells wrong" theory.

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