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Fossett's Plane Found 356

Posted by timothy
from the last-word dept.
otter42 writes "Sadly, it looks as if all those crazies claiming Steve Fossett was still alive were wrong after all. The NY Times has the confirmation that wreckage of Fossett's Bellanca Citabria was found. Now it's up to the NTSB to tell us why this happened, although, statistically, dollars to donuts it was engine/fuel-related."
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Fossett's Plane Found

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  • by sharp3 (1195261) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @01:57PM (#25236565)
    No body was found, and was purportedly "eaten by animals". Conspiracy theories live on!
    • by eggoeater (704775)
      Yup. The conspiracy nuts will love this one.
      Although, if you were famous and wanted to "disappear", this seems like the way to do it. The high mountains (~10k ft) prevented his plane from being found right away, and the lack of a body (or parts thereof) is easily dismissed in a wooded, snowy part of the country.
    • by camperslo (704715) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @02:18PM (#25236945)

      No body was found, and was purportedly "eaten by animals". Conspiracy theories live on!

      Kudos to hiker that turned in what he found. I suspect many people would not have turned in the thousand dollars or so in cash had they made the discovery.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Maybe he found several thousand, and decided to turn in enough to be realistic.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by osu-neko (2604)

        Kudos to hiker that turned in what he found. I suspect many people would not have turned in the thousand dollars or so in cash had they made the discovery.

        "If it's not yours, don't take it." Why do some people find basic ethics so hard? :(

        Not to mention the questions that would come up when the wife says, "I wonder what happened to the $1000 he always kept in his pocket, just in case he needed some cash." (Maybe she would, maybe she wouldn't, but that's a big chance to take.)

        I suppose you could take the cash and then not report the find at all, thus preventing anyone from even asking you that question, but gods -- the poor widow and all his friends and stuf

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by hurfy (735314)

          "Not to mention the questions that would come up when the wife says, "I wonder what happened to the $1000 he always kept in his pocket, just in case he needed some cash.""

          Well....since they haven't found the pocket...I could think of an out ;)

          Gotta be him tho, no other small plane pilot has $1000 left in his pocket after filling the tank for takeoff....

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Zerbey (15536) *

        Yes, and he'll be picking up a reward [youchoose.net] for his honesty, assuming it's still on offer.

        I'm sure he'll get plenty from interview deals as well.

    • by eclectro (227083)

      Kicking as in "cryptmaster kicking" or just "zombie kicking" ??

  • by drerwk (695572) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @01:58PM (#25236577) Homepage
    Steve, being a sailplane pilot would have less trouble with engine issues than most power pilots. And on the lea side of the Sierras you can glide an very long distance east provided the rotor turbulence does not get you.
    • by Rary (566291) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @02:02PM (#25236653)

      Other sources are providing more information. According to CBC [www.cbc.ca], the plane slammed into a mountain.

      Anderson said no remains were found in or near the aircraft, but said the crash was so severe that "I doubt someone would have walked away from it."

      The plane appears to have crashed head-on with the mountainside before disintegrating, he said. The aircraft's engine was found about 90 metres from where the fuselage and wings were found.

    • by ChrisA90278 (905188) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @03:22PM (#25237969)

      Yes being a sail plane pilot is good experience if your engine quits. But have you ever flown a Citaboria? I have. Here is how you land one: The plane has no "flaps" so don't worry about those. While at pattern altitude (about 1,000 feet above ground) when you are on down wind abeam of the numbers. Put the engine to down to idle. Make two left turns and the plane will land right on the number. basically you loose that 1,000 feet "way fast" the Citaboria glides like a rock. You really have to keep the nose down or you run out of airspeed. By comparison any two seat trainer flys like a sailplane

      If the engine quits that plane is going to land within only a couple miles at best. That said there was a road within walking distance of the crash site. Any reasonable pilot still in control of the aircraft would have at least attempted to aim for a clear area. I don't think he was in control when it hit the ground.

      My gues is the caue was either a mechanical, non engine failure of the structure or control system or a medical problem.

  • Last I heard, they were saying he appeared to have hiked at least a half kilometer from the crash site, to where his cash and ID were found.

    This isn't to say that he isn't dead now, or that someone else found the crash site and (for reasons unexplained) took his ID and a grand in cash from it, then hid them where the hiker later found them, but the simplest explanation is that he survived the crash.

    So the fact that they found the plane does not automatically make anyone claiming he is alive "crazy".

    --Mar

    • by Waffle Iron (339739) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @02:13PM (#25236833)

      that someone else found the crash site and (for reasons unexplained) took his ID and a grand in cash from it, then hid them where the hiker later found them

      My guess would be that "someone" would have been something like a raccoon or a buzzard.

    • by texasandroid (692557) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @02:16PM (#25236895)
      The reports are not saying that he hiked that distance, but that his ID was found that distance away from the crash site. In an area with plenty of wildlife, there are many other ways his ID could have been transported that distance, besides him surviving the initial crash.
    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Last I heard, they were saying he appeared to have hiked at least a half kilometer from the crash site, to where his cash and ID were found.

      I saw several accounts, authorities say it was a "hard crash" as in "smashed into the side of a mountain at full speed" and that there is no chance whatever that he survived the carsh.

      Madera County Sheriff John Anderson told reporters that searchers "found enough wreckage to determine that it was in fact the aircraft" Fossett was flying solo when he disappeared last Sep

  • by frith01 (1118539) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @02:01PM (#25236635)

    At that high an altitude, if you get clouds/ fog, you can run into a mountain at 10,000 feet, even if you're a good pilot ( who forgot to check his map).

    NTSB said that the wreckage looked like high velocity impact, with little chance of survival.

    • by tgatliff (311583)

      Exactly... An engine failure in something as slow as a Citabria would be easy to to "pancake" as they call it. Chances are he never saw the mountain which is very easy to happen..

      • by ptbarnett (159784) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @02:58PM (#25237603)

        Exactly... An engine failure in something as slow as a Citabria would be easy to to "pancake" as they call it. Chances are he never saw the mountain which is very easy to happen..

        Fossett was an experienced pilot. He wouldn't have been flying in IMC (instrument meteorological conditions) in the vicinity of a mountain below the minimum sector altitude, at least not intentionally.

        Given that he was in a different area than he was expected, I suspect Steve had some sort of medical problem that incapacitated him. If the airplane was trimmed properly, it could have flown for a while before impacting the mountain at cruise speed.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by yabos (719499)
      Or you set your altimeter incorrectly.
  • by LWATCDR (28044) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @02:02PM (#25236659) Homepage Journal

    I don't know what it is but the end result looks like controlled flight into the ground.
    Fossett was a very good pilot. An engine failure at altitude would have given him enough time to send out a distress call unless he was very close the ground when it happened. So maybe but it could have been any number of things. From the report of the crash it sounds like it hit hard and fast.
    For the family this is probably a relief since now they can have some closure hopefully.

    • by badasscat (563442) <`basscadet75' `at' `yahoo.com'> on Thursday October 02, 2008 @03:11PM (#25237803)

      I don't know what it is but the end result looks like controlled flight into the ground.

      Yeah, I don't get the "statistically, dollars to donuts it was engine/fuel-related", because statistically, CFIT is a much more common cause of air accidents than engine or fuel problems. Fuel problems are actually one of the *least* likely causes, be it contamination, starvation or exhaustion.

      There were reportedly clouds at around the altitude he'd have been flying at that day obscuring mountain peaks like this one. I think the most likely cause at this point is he was flying in a cloud and ran into the mountain. It happens, even to airliner pilots with sophisticated ground proximity warning systems. General aviation pilots usually have either no such equipment, or rudimentary ground avoidance equipment. I'm not sure what, if anything, his plane would have been equipped with, but even if it had such equipment, it wouldn't necessarily have been enough to prevent a CFIT accident.

  • by clonan (64380) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @02:03PM (#25236673)

    Now it's up to the NTSB to tell us why this happened, although, statistically, dollars to donuts it was engine/fuel-related.

    Dollars to donuts the CRASH was gravity related...the engine/fuel is just a side problem!

  • by nweaver (113078) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @02:03PM (#25236675) Homepage

    What are the random internet nutcases right about anymore?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      See, this is exactly the problem with the Internet. Now that anyone can be a paranoid crackpot on-line, the venerable, traditional lunatic fringe is being devalued by all these crowd-sourced, anonymous cyber-nuts. Used to be, you could trust a conspiracy theory to be utterly impervious to disproof by reasoned argument - Who shot Kennedy, Elvis' faked death etc etc. Now these dilettantes are messing it all up.

      The world ain't what it used to be.
  • by Puffy Director Pants (1242492) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @02:04PM (#25236689)

    It took them this long to find the plane because they had to fake up a wreck!

  • In relation to the search we had on Slashdot some time ago, I wonder where he was. I remember looking all over trying to report whatever I could.

    Also, unless it's changed, I don't think the nay-sayers are wrong yet. They found his plane but IIRC they have not found a body.

    • by eepok (545733)

      This is what I want to know. I know I spent a good few hours scanning those fresh satellite photos... I want to know how close I got. =P

  • Head on collision (Score:5, Informative)

    by BigGar' (411008) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @02:09PM (#25236779) Homepage

    They're saying that the damage looks like he flew straight into the side of the mountain and that it was extremely unlikely that it was a survivable impact.
    http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/10/02/steve.fossett.search/index.html [cnn.com]

    • by jez9999 (618189)

      Don't they usually have the option of ejection and parachuting in modern planes?

      • by BigGar' (411008)

        Eject,no, not unless you're in a jet fighter.
        Parachuting possibly, depending on the plane style, etc, but you'd have to realize you were in trouble and proceed to jump out. Perhaps he had a heart attack, stroke or otherwise wasn't in control of the plane when it collided. Perhaps he didn't have time to get out once he realized his situation, or he stayed at the helm trying to correct it the whole way it. That there was a lack of communications from him leads me to believe that it is likely that he had a a

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by osu-neko (2604)

        Don't they usually have the option of ejection and parachuting in modern planes?

        No. This wasn't an F-16. And it looks like the kind of accident where the pilot's first sign that he was in trouble was approximately 0.2 seconds before impact.

        If nothing was wrong with the plane, he probably flew it right into the side of the mountain under power, not realizing the mountain was right there until it was, well, right there. If something was wrong with the plane, he probably could have successfully glided it to a survivable impact. There's rarely any use for a parachute in a small, single

  • by mbone (558574) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @02:10PM (#25236795)

    The day Steve Fossett was lost I was driving from San Francisco
    to Las Vegas by way of Barstow. Just after Barstow we entered one of those huge desert storm systems, a line of thunderheads
    stretching North and South, and all of a sudden it rained so hard
    and the wind blew so hard that it was hard controlling the car,
    even when we slowed to 20 MPH. Soon after we left the storm, I
    heard about the disappearance of Steve Fossett on the radio.

    I have been convinced ever since that moment that that storm
    killed him. I cannot see how a light aircraft could have flown
    through it, and yet it came up pretty suddenly. Looking at the
    map, I might still be right.

  • The area (Score:5, Informative)

    by PhotoGuy (189467) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @02:10PM (#25236797) Homepage

    As mentioned in another post, as best as I can tell from the news articles, this [gass.ca] is a Google Earth view of the area he went down. The Minaret Lake area is where the hiker found his ID and money, and the Minaret Peak is near where his plane hit.

    • by Muhammar (659468)

      The crash site its near Minaret Lake in Amsel Adams Wilderness (as mentioned in SF Chronicle and Wired). The hiker who found the site went far, far north-west from his home in Mammoth Lakes - way up in High Sierras. Its is a gorgeous place, and very remote.

      I suppose the investigators are not too keen on having clueless media dudes descending on the area so they have been coy about the actual location, describing it as "near Mammoth lakes"

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I think it is becoming clearer that Fossett survived the crash, and was shortly adopted by a bear, and is currently living in a cave, having forgotten his human status due to traumatic brain injury.

    Maybe you need to stop being so dismissive of people who think he is still alive.

    • by Chris Burke (6130) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @02:27PM (#25237091) Homepage

      I think it is becoming clearer that Fossett survived the crash, and was shortly adopted by a bear, and is currently living in a cave, having forgotten his human status due to traumatic brain injury.

      *sigh* More of this? You he's-alive-and-adopted-by-bears people are crazy nutjobs. It's the he's-alive-and-adopted-by-wolves people who have their fingers on the pulse of truth. Wake up!

  • by h890231398021 (948231) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @02:14PM (#25236859)
    See Wikipedia [wikipedia.org].

    It's an all-too-common occurrence in aviation. It even occurs to big, commercial flights. For example, Eastern Airlines flight 401 [wikipedia.org] (in 1972).

    By all accounts his plane was equipped with an ELT and a radio. Presumably he would have used one or both if an engine failure or other mechanical problem occurred and he had some time while gliding.

  • I was like Steve who? Here's his wikipedia entry [wikipedia.org].
    Summary:

    James Stephen Fossett (born April 22, 1944; missing September 3, 2007; declared legally dead February 15, 2008[1][2]) was an American businessman, aviator, sailor, and adventurer and the first person to fly solo nonstop around the world in a balloon. He made his fortune in the financial services industry, and was best known for many world records, including five nonstop circumnavigations of the Earth: as a long-distance solo balloonist, as a sailor,

  • by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Thursday October 02, 2008 @02:17PM (#25236921) Homepage Journal

    I, like many of us, participated in that mechanical turk thing a few days after the crash to try to find his airplane in satellite photos. Did we cover that area? I kind of hope not.

  • For the conspiracy crazies I mean. No human remains have been found. Clothing found at some distance from the wreckage. Enough to keep atleast 4 documentaries and a couple of movies coming.
  • As someone that's hiked that area long ago, when they mentioned the search would begin on the John Muir Trail between Dorothy and Shadow Lakes. That is a *heck* of a lot of VERY rugged forest area above 8000ft. It's not like there's a long snow-free time up there, or a whole lot of people at any given time either.

    That they were able to find the wreckage is awesome. That's one great reason why we pay taxes people.

    Prior searches focused on land east of the Glass Mountains. Another *huge* area.

    As an FYI, the

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      >> That's one great reason why we pay taxes people.

      Not quite.

      http://news.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/05/01/2057200 [slashdot.org]

      Though I can't say I'm pleased at the thought of paying taxes that will go to searching for swashbuckling billionaires who crash their private planes into national parks. Seems like people in that category can handle a few invoices for the extra services they require.

  • From TFA... (Score:4, Funny)

    by IronMagnus (777535) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @02:26PM (#25237087)
    Rusty Aimer, chief executive of Aviation Experts

    I hope this guy doesn't own a gun... get it?
  • Citabria, huh? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by meburke (736645) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @02:30PM (#25237125)

    I remember that about 25 years ago in Alaska we had a number of cases where the Citabria would crash because a wing came off. (And the Citabria was supposed to be aerobatic-certified aircraft. It just wasn't rugged enough for bush flying.) As I understand it, an AD was issued that should have corrected all the defects, but just knowing the problem existed is enough to dismiss early conclusions as to the reason behind the crash.

  • I saw this in the Chicago Tribune (and submitted it to slashdot, still pending) =/

    There are links from the AP, UPI, the Salt Lake City paper; the news is all over. Why does the summary link to an international paper and a snarky British IT rag (the Register)?

    I mean, if it's a story about something they found in Antarctica then IHT is a good link. If it's something about a British hacker then El Reg is a good link. If it's about Australia then an Australian paper os a good link.

    Google News has this on its fr [google.com]

  • by BandoMcHando (85123) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @02:43PM (#25237345)
    Hmm.... I'm particularly loving the math skills of the International Herald Tribune's journalists.

    Mammoth Lakes is about 10,000 feet, or 30,400 meters, above sea level, and snow makes already difficult terrain largely impassable and could bury plane wreckage.

  • Engine/Fuel related? I kind of doubt it. I know the area. If the plane's engine quite at that altitude he could had still landed at Manmoth airport. He had more then a mile of elevation above the valley floor and the distance was not great. Even if not at the airport there was a road within WALKING distance of the crash site.

    I've flown a Citobria they are very strong plans and can be put down on a very short space and crash landed on a few hundred feet of road way.

    I strongly suspect that something else

Things equal to nothing else are equal to each other.

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