Search team find plane believed to be of Steve Fossett

October 2nd, 2008 - 9:59 pm ICT by IANS  

San Francisco, Oct 2 (DPA) The enigma over the disappearance of adventurer Steve Fossett moved closer to resolution Thursday as federal transportation officials were set to examine the wreckage of a light plane found near the site where objects apparently belonging to Fossett were discovered earlier in the week.Searchers discovered the wreckage late Wednesday evening in a rugged wooded area in the Sierra Nevada Mountains after fanning out in a 15-km radius from where hikers discovered ID cards, clothes and some $1,000 in cash that appeared to belong to Fossett, authorities said.

But they warned the dozens of light planes had crashed in the area in recent years and there was no guarantee that the newly-found wreckage was Fossett’s missing aircraft.

There was greater certainty about the other items.

Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration in Los Angeles, confirmed that the copy of a pilot’s licence he had received matched Fossett’s details.

“The certificate number and date of issue on the document in the photo matches the information we have for Mr Fossett in our database,” he said.

Other information, including Fossett’s date of birth and his address, also matched, he said.

The items were found by ski-shop owner Preston Morrow near the remote recreation town of Mammoth Lakes close to the California-Nevada border about 500 km north of Los Angeles. He handed them over to the police after an approach to the Fossett family was rebuffed.

The new information was enough to reconvene a search that was halted over six months ago when air and ground search failed to discover any trace of Fossett, 63, or the light plane that he was flying when he disappeared in September 2007.

The previous searches had not concentrated on the area around Mammoth Lakes.

Fossett’s widow, Peggy, said she hoped the new discovery would help bring closure to her husband’s disappearance.

“I am aware of the search underway for my husband, Steve Fossett, in the Mammoth Lakes area of Madera and Mono counties, California, following the discovery by a hiker of personal items that appear to belong to my husband,” she said in the statement.

“I am hopeful that this search will locate the crash site and my husband’s remains. I am grateful to all of those involved in this effort.”

Fossett disappeared as he was apparently trying to find a site to attempt an assault on the world land speed record.

A billionaire financial trader, Fossett set 116 records in sailboats, powered aircraft, balloons, airships and gliders.

He also swam the English Channel, drove in the 24 Hours of Le Mans car race, competed in Hawaii’s Ironman Triathlon, sailed solo across both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, climbed Argentina’s 23,000-foot Aconcagua peak and competed in Alaska’s Iditarod Trail sled dog race.

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