One year after aviator and sailor Steve Fossett’s single-engine Bellanca aircraft disappeared, a lone back country hiker in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains found documents, including an Federal Aviation Administration identity card, an FAA pilot’s license, cash, a sweatshirt and a third ID card belonging to the missing adventurer.
Discovery of the documents renewed the search for Fossett’s aircraft and prompted continued investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Earlier searches for Fossett had proved unsuccessful, but just a week after the documents were found an aerial search of the area revealed a crash site near the town of Mammoth Lakes, Calif. Investigators found a 400-foot by 150-foot debris field on a mountainside at about 10,000 feet above ground level. There they found the remains of Fossett’s plane, including the engine and the tail number. Also discovered were some small bone fragments. The NTSB’s DNA testing of bone fragments discovered near the crash site confirmed the remains are those of Fossett.
Fossett’s widow, Peggy Fossett said that she welcomed the discovery of her husband’s plane. “I hope now to be able to bring to closure a very painful chapter in my life. I prefer to think about Steve’s life rather than his death and celebrate his many extraordinary accomplishments.” Fellow adventurer, Sir Richard Branson, concurred saying “â€¦everybody who was close to Steve will now have the chance to pay the right tribute to what was a truly great and extraordinary person.”
Steve Fossett was well know for his accomplishments as a record setting balloon pilot, glider pilot, fixed wing pilot, airship pilot and sailor. He is recognized by the World Sailing Speed Record Council as “the world’s most accomplished speed sailor.”