The search for missing aviator Steve Fossett in the Nevada desert has been scaled back, while the preliminary report from the NTSB lists the accident as a fatality.
Fossett disappeared Sept. 3 while flying near Yerington, Nev. He took off in a Bellanca Super Decathlon for what was supposed to be a three-hour flight, but never returned. No flight plan was filed.
There was no report of ELT activation. Given the harsh climate of the region, hopes for Fossett’s survival had faded by the second week of the search.
On Sept. 24, the preliminary report about the disappearance and presumed accident appeared on the NTSB’s website, NTSB.gov, listing the accident as a fatality.
At its peak the search involved more than 45 aircraft and hundreds of searchers from all over the United States, many of them from the Civil Air Patrol. Search teams flew over 20,000 square miles of mountainous terrain looking for a sign of the millionaire adventurer. In addition, thousands more people participated in the search using Internet programs that show satellite images of the area. The search did uncover at least eight previously unrecorded crash sites.
At times the search was hampered by private pilots who flew into the area with hopes of locating Fossett and collecting a $10,000 reward offered by YouChoose.net, a website that encourages its users to turn “passions into actions.” The reward, for the first person to provide information leading to Fossett’s rescue, is only for people who use the Internet to find the missing pilot.
Eventually a Temporary Flight Restriction was placed to keep unauthorized pilots out of the area.
As this issue was going to press, neither Fossett nor the wreckage of his aircraft had been located.