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Bones Found Near Crash Site Confirmed Fossett's 129

Posted by kdawson
from the closure-and-rest dept.
Trip6 writes "Bones found near the wreckage of the plane flown by Steve Fossett when he disappeared last fall have been confirmed to be Fossett's by DNA analysis. The NTSB is still investigating the crash. Fossett may have been searching for a place to break the land speed record, his next quest."
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Bones Found Near Crash Site Confirmed Fossett's

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  • by Skiron (735617) on Wednesday November 05, 2008 @05:04AM (#25637853) Homepage
    New World Record! [slashdot.org]
    • He was actually looking for a site to run the Land Speed Record car that he bought from Craig Breedlove. Now the Brits are starting on another car to beat their own record (and 1000mph)
  • Sad news. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jcr (53032) <jcr@mEULERac.com minus math_god> on Wednesday November 05, 2008 @05:06AM (#25637867) Journal

    The mad died doing what he loved, flying a plane. I guess the lesson is that no matter how much experience a pilot has, flying is still a risky business.

    -jcr

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The mad died doing what he loved, flying a plane.

      I don't understand why that's sad.

    • by RuBLed (995686)
      Flying is risky but to negate that risk, we are provided parachutes that are neatly placed under our seats... oh wait...
    • Re:Sad news. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Konster (252488) on Wednesday November 05, 2008 @05:16AM (#25637909)

      No, he didn't die while flying a plane. He died while crashing a plane.

      • Re:Sad news. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by nmg196 (184961) on Wednesday November 05, 2008 @06:03AM (#25638093)

        The vast majority of plane crashes occur while the planes are flying.
        Very few simply crash while they're sitting in the hangar - so he was still flying when he crashed I expect.

      • Re:Sad news. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by RuBLed (995686) on Wednesday November 05, 2008 @06:17AM (#25638141)
        What if he had a heart attack and died while flying the plane?
      • by digitig (1056110)

        The term is either "Controlled flight into terrain" or "Uncontrolled flight into terrain", depending on the cause of the crash. Either way, it's flight.

        • What are mid-air collisions called? With other aircraft? Or crashes while taxiing? I'd imagine those are less common though....

          • by digitig (1056110)

            What are mid-air collisions called? With other aircraft?

            "Mid-air collisions". See the bit about TCAS in this report [bfu-web.de]

            Or crashes while taxiing? I'd imagine those are less common though....

            Don't know. The incident that springs to mind was the Tenerife crash in 1977, but I'm not aware of any usual terminology for that sort of incident (there can be a "usual terminology" for a highly unusual accident, because the folks managing safety will still talk about what they're working to avoid, but most of my experience is en-route or take-off/landing rather than ground movements).

            Anyway, for aviation safety purposes,
            flight is defined (in as s

            • Or crashes while taxiing? I'd imagine those are less common though....

              Runway incursion http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Runway_incursion [wikipedia.org]

              Any occurrence at an aerodrome involving the incorrect presence of an aircraft, vehicle, or person on the protected area of a surface designated for the landing and take-off of aircraft.

              My subscription to the NTSB Reported lapsed when I stopped flying http://www.ntsb-reporter.com/ [ntsb-reporter.com] but it is highly recommended reading for any pilot if you wish to learn from other's mistakes. I

              • by digitig (1056110)

                Not quite. A ground-crash could take place on a stand or taxiway, and wouldn't be a runway incursion, and a runway incursion need not lead to an accident -- in fact, most don't, most lead to suspension of movements whilst ATC shout things like "Will somebody get that ****** off the runway!"

                More precisely, a runway incursion is an incident, not an accident.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by digitalchinky (650880)

      I suspect we will never know why his aircraft belted in to the side of the mountain in clear air - cloud cover was apparently much higher at the time, so visibility was good.

      I can well imagine he was incapacitated or dead before impact - the other possibility is suicide I guess.

      • Re:Sad news. (Score:5, Informative)

        by jcr (53032) <jcr@mEULERac.com minus math_god> on Wednesday November 05, 2008 @05:28AM (#25637961) Journal

        I can well imagine he was incapacitated or dead before impact

        Could have had a CO leak into the cockpit, a stroke, a heart attack... Since it was so long after the crash the remains were found, we'll probably never know.

        -jcr

        • by KeelSpawn (575726)
          Any pilot holding a private pilot certificate or above has to have at least a valid and current 3rd class medical certificate to exercise private pilot privileges. Generally, pilots are healthier than the average crowd. While I agree that a stroke or heart attack might have been possible, they are not likely.
          • I was flying with our old company pilot once, I was in the co-pilot seat of a twin engine beachcraft baron.. He said hit this auto-pilot button if I die, get on the radio and tell them what happened and that it will land at atlanta airport and you have no control of it. He said he had a bad ticker and it was feeling jumpy that day, maybe its ok as long as the small plane has a self landing gps nav co-pilot system like ours did, or he had a bs exam...not sure which.
          • by MBGMorden (803437)

            While true, there are a whole host a medical issues that wouldn't be caught during a 3rd class medical. They're also only required every 2 years (per 3 years if you're under 40). Problems could crop up between one and the next.

            Just one note too: though I'm pretty positive he was flying your private pilot privileges, a private pilot can allow has medical to lapse and still fly under sport pilot privileges. You have some restrictions there on what planes you can fly (mostly based on weight), but the older,

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by Martin Blank (154261)

              That's been extended as of around June, I think. Third-class certificates now last 60 calendar months if the person is under 40. The change is retroactive, so if you're two years into your 36-month certificate, you're now two years into your 60-month certificate.

        • The investigators will at least be able to rule in or out problems with the aircraft - unless theres been some very hungry aluminium chomping wildlife around that area recently!

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by ozmanjusri (601766)
          Could have had a CO leak into the cockpit

          You don't need CO.

          http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2002/03/23/1016843080716.html [theage.com.au]

      • Re:Sad news. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Konster (252488) on Wednesday November 05, 2008 @05:48AM (#25638047)

        Clear air doesn't always mean safe air. Given his altitude, airframe icing may be a cause.

        Nor does experience mean the pilot will always make the best decisions...experience is the best teacher only if you always listen to it, combined with good judgment.

        I'd guess a mechanical failure of some sort. Carb door coming off and getting sucked into the manifold, bearing/crank/valve train failure, fuel delivery, whatever. Any number of problems that may arise while perhaps toodling around low and slow become huge almost unmanageable problems very quickly. The transition from aircraft to glider to lawn dart can be astoundingly quick and fully outside the bounds of any pilot to fix.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Lumpy (12016)

          given his altitude, if he was not wearing an oxygen mask or in a pressurized cabin, he may have simply fell asleep.

          It's incredibly easy to lose consciousness at the altitude he was as if you are not vigilant at conserving your personal energy... In fact at 10,000 feet it's plain old stupid not to be wearing an air mask in that plane.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by MBGMorden (803437)

            10,000 isn't THAT bad. Most people are fine at that altitude. By regulations you're not expressly required to use supplemental oxygen until 14,500 feet. You do have to use it however if you go above 12,500 feet (but less than the 14,500 ft mark) for more than 30 minutes.

            Typically, FAA regulations are actually very well worded, and most good pilots tend to heed them very well. I don't think hypoxia was an issue here.

          • by Firethorn (177587)

            It's incredibly easy to lose consciousness at the altitude he was as if you are not vigilant at conserving your personal energy... In fact at 10,000 feet it's plain old stupid not to be wearing an air mask in that plane.

            But was he at 10k feet? If he was looking for spots to break the land speed record, he should have been Especially seeing as how he was experienced at high altitude conditions with all his various stunts/record attempts, I find that losing conciousness due to altitude unlikely.

            My personal theory is that he might of had a stroke, which can come on quicker than a heart attack and disable the pilot sooner - leaving him unable to pilot or call on the radio/activate any emergency beacon. I think a heart attack

        • by tweak13 (1171627)

          Given his altitude, airframe icing may be a cause.

          Airframe icing is not possible without visible moisture. Since he was not on a flight plan he would not have been legally allowed to fly into a cloud, and if freezing rain was falling on the aircraft he'd be an idiot not to recognize it and turn around. Since I don't think he'd hang around in clouds for extended periods of time or be dumb enough to let freezing rain build up on the wings I highly doubt icing caused this crash.

          • by MBGMorden (803437)

            Airframe icing maybe, but not carb icing. Carb icing has been known to occur in clear skies in temperatures as high as 70 degrees F. That said, carb icing, if noticed in time (the engine starts to run rough and lose power - I've had it start to build up plenty of times and it's easy to recognize), can generally be avoided by applying carb heat. Given his experience level though I doubt he would have missed the signs.

            • by slacktide (796664)
              Err, no. 8KCAB Decathalons have a Lyc AEIO-360-H1B engine. Fuel injected, no carb icing.
              • by MBGMorden (803437)

                Oops. Didn't know that. The only engines I've flown are the Cont. O-200, Lyc. O-235, and Cont. A-65. All had carbs so I'm just used to thinking in that mindset :).

              • Err, no. 8KCAB Decathalons have a Lyc AEIO-360-H1B engine. Fuel injected, no carb icing.

                Nope, the one I fly has an AEIO-320-E1B....you're thinking of the Super Decathlon, also an 8KCAB. But yeah, no carb icing with fuel injection.

        • By all accounts he was in a slight climb under power at the time of impact, this doesn't bode well with icing. I have a pilots licence myself (since around 1990) so I know the drill on medical certificates and have experienced icing both of wings and carb - carb heat is just a lever away for any plane suffering that problem, wing icing is a little more problematic but solved (mitigated) often with just a change in altitude or diverting somewhere without visible cloud or rain.

          I used to belt around Canberra

    • by KeelSpawn (575726)
      Statistically, flying is no riskier (if not less) than driving your car to your local airport. Also, according to the NTSB, most aviation accidents are from pilot error as a result from complacency or negligence. So, some wouldn't call flying a risky business, rather flying is simply *less forgiving* to those who are negligent.
      • by peragrin (659227)

        In other words we should give everyone a pilot's license and let gravity sort out the group?

        Darwin didn't see that one coming.

      • by Konster (252488)

        Nope.

        By stats, it's a lot safer to fly on an established huge jet airline that covers millions of miles in a year than : a private pilot with any experience flying a very small aircraft. By huge orders of magnitude.

        That you think by glancing at these figures and deducing flying is safe is hugely wrong. Flying in huge jumbo type jets run by mega corporations is safer than driving...probably.

        That by looking at stats for what amounts to scaffolding with wings versus tires...tires wins by a huge amount.

  • I'd say he possibly broke the speed landing record.

  • If it had given a signal then he might have been saved.

  • There's no way.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by PhantomHarlock (189617) on Wednesday November 05, 2008 @05:30AM (#25637965)

    There's no way he was looking for a land speed record location near there. It's one of the most mountainous areas in the country. he may have started in the flats of Nevada, but he went over one mountain range and was skimming the peaks of another when he went down.

    I backpacked in and camped about 5 miles north of that spot last year at Thousand Island Lake. He crashed at 10,000 feet up, which is nearing the limits for a small plane with unpressurized cockpit. If you make a wrong move and don't manage your energy right, you're dead, and there's nowhere to land safely. Likely it was too late by the time he realized he was in it too far and wasn't going to get back out.

    The scenery up there is spectacular though, about a mile from his crash site is the Minarets and Minaret Lake, one of many alpine lakes that dot the Sierra range. There are backpacking trails nearby, but not on that particular very steep mountain side.

    • by cheekyboy (598084)

      Cessna Opperational limit 20000ft

      http://www.fsd-international.com/projects/C337/Manual/Checklists/Limitations.pdf [fsd-international.com]

      I have been up at 10000ft, and felt just fine, same as skiing on snow at 7800ft.

      • Except he was in a Bellanca Citabria. You can go higher, but you generally need oxygen above 12,500 feet or you start becoming an idiot.

    • by npsimons (32752) *

      There's no way he was looking for a land speed record location near there. It's one of the most mountainous areas in the country.

      I was going to say this, as I was on another search in the same area earlier this year, and I'm part of a MOUNTAIN rescue group. Sadly, I couldn't go on the Fossett search as I had other pressing duties (work sucks).

  • ... Bones saying "It's dead, Jim"
  • RIP. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by apodyopsis (1048476) on Wednesday November 05, 2008 @05:48AM (#25638043)
    Sad (but predictable on /.) to see a lot of jokes already, so I'll be first to say commiserations to the family and RIP a pioneer.

    He died doing what he loved and always challenged his boundaries, I can admire that.

    At least the mystery is finally cleared up, the crash investigation can begin.
    • Re:RIP. (Score:5, Funny)

      by MrNaz (730548) on Wednesday November 05, 2008 @06:18AM (#25638149) Homepage

      Yea these jokes are in very bad taste. Whenever bones are found it is never a humerus matter.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I've never been a fan of the idea that joking is a sign of disrespect. I find one's ability to look to the lighter side of things during dark times to be admirable.

    • Sad (but predictable on /.) to see a lot of jokes already.

      No, it isn't sad atall.

      I can't imagine what sort of grumpy shit you'd have to be to complain about people having a joke when you've shipped out

      It doesn't diminish any of his achievements to be positive and deal with adversity whilst maintaining your sense of humour (without being ghoulish).

    • by Cowmonaut (989226)
      How is that sad? Sounds like a few Wakes I've been to...
  • Bones. [moditory.com]
  • It's sad but at least the body has been found to stop the mystery and rumour about him possibly doing a runner!
    • by maxume (22995)

      He was rich. He could have had medical records altered to fit the corpse that he purchased, or maybe even had himself cloned.

  • I've noticed that some folks here are getting one thing outta this incident - that flying is risky. Statistically, flying is no riskier (if not less) than your driving your car to your local airport. What's more, according to the NTSB, most aviation accidents are from pilot (human) error as a result from complacency or negligence. So, a lot of people out there wouldn't call flying a risky business, rather flying is simply *less forgiving* to those who possess the mentioned traits.

    Also, to address the pos
  • Fossett isn't a word. It's fossil.
  • .. Recovery Team. In a statement, leader of the Fossett Recovery Crew said "Doctor McCoy was alive and well after the shuttle accident, and said that maybe scattering your atoms across space isn't such a bad idea after all".

  • Great show, but isn't it a little early for them to cover this? It will be nice to find out who did it though.
  • No one has mentioned this, probably out of respect for the family. Since only a few remains were found and quite far from wreckage. In the name of science it would be cool to know from experts about what happens to carcasses in them there CA mountains, and if the altitude of the impact bars some type of animal activity.

  • ... or could Fossett have helped himself out by spending a relaxing evening with a good glass of scotch and Google Earth? I mean, sure, if I was him I would have an endless list of excuses to go out for a flight in my Citabria, but still... looking for salt flats? Please. Any place big enough to set a land speed record on will stick out like a sore thumb with consumer-grade remote sensing.
    • Google Earth is good for seeing where salt flats are located, but not what condition they're in. A damp dry lake bed isn't very useful as a test track.

      Chuck Yeager had a humorous story in his autobiography about an argument he had with John Glenn. Glenn insisted that a particular salt flat was safe for use as an emergency landing site, while Yeager said he flown over the site in the past week or so, and knew the site was still damp and unsafe.

      So to settle the argument, he and Glenn take a trainer out to the

  • Anyone know if this area was looked at through the Amazon's Mechanical Turk project searching for Steve Fossett?
  • Q. What was the last thing to go through Fossett's mind?

    A. The tail section of the aircraft.

    What?!? Too soon?

Disclaimer: "These opinions are my own, though for a small fee they be yours too." -- Dave Haynie

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