October 2, 2008

Aerial Search May Have Found Fossett Wreckage

By Associated Press

MAMMOTH LAKES, Calif. -- Authorities say search teams looking in southern California for any sign of adventurer Steve Fossett have spotted what appears to be wreckage from the air.

Madera County sheriff's spokeswoman Erica Stuart would not reveal the exact location of the reported aerial sighting Wednesday night and declined to provide any more information.

Authorities had said searchers were combing a 10-mile radius around the area where a hiker had found what appeared to be items belonging to Fossett this week.

The hiker says he found three identification cards with Fossett's name and about $1,000 in cash Monday tangled in a bush just west of the town of Mammoth Lakes. He turned them into police Wednesday.

Federal Aviation Administration officials say they are trying to determine whether the ID cards are authentic. Fossett vanished on a solo flight more than a year ago.

The information on the pilot license -- including Fossett's name, address, date of birth and certificate number -- was sent in a photograph to the Federal Aviation Administration, and all matched the agency's records, spokesman Ian Gregor said.

"We're trying to determine the authenticity of the document," Gregor said.

The hiker, Preston Morrow, said he turned the items over to local police Wednesday after unsuccessful attempts to contact Fossett's family.

Mammoth Lakes police investigator Crystal Schafer confirmed that the department had the items.

Morrow said he found no sign of a plane or any human remains.

Fossett, whose exploits included circumnavigating the globe in a balloon, disappeared Sept. 3, 2007, after taking off in a single-engine plane borrowed from a Nevada ranch owned by hotel magnate Barron Hilton. A judge declared Fossett legally dead in February following a search for the famed aviator that covered 20,000 square miles.

Photo Courtesy Mary Frances Howard - Wikipedia