法新社╱彭木芳 2008-10-03 00:50
Wreck of Steve Fossett's plane discovered: police
by Rob Woollard
2 hours, 28 minutes ago
LOS ANGELES (AFP) - The mangled wreckage of the plane being flown by adventurer Steve Fossett when he disappeared has been found, police said Thursday, but there was no sign of the millionaire's body.
Madera County Sheriff John Anderson said the shattered remains of Fossett's single-engine Bellanca had been spotted during an aerial search of the rugged Sierra Nevada mountains in California late Wednesday.
Rescuers later reached the plane on foot and confirmed it was Fossett's aircraft but found no human remains at the crash site.
Anderson said photos of the site appeared to indicate that the plane had smashed head-on into a mountainside.
"The crash looked so severe I doubt if someone would have walked away from it," Anderson told reporters. "There was no body in the plane. We have not found any human remains at the crash site."
Fifty searchers and five dog teams will fan out across the area in an effort to find remains of Fossett, who vanished on September 3 last year after taking off on a solo flight from a private airstrip in neighboring Nevada.
Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board will also study the wreckage to determine what may have caused the crash.
Search and rescue teams had started combing the area near Mammoth Lakes on Wednesday after the discovery of aviation identity cards bearing Fossett's name, a faded fleece sweatshirt and 1,005 dollars cash.
Anderson said the crash site was roughly a quarter of a mile from where the identity cards and cash were found by hiker Preston Morrow.
Morrow told US media he had stumbled on the items by chance after taking a short cut. "I came across the I.D. card and the other card and the 100 dollar bills in the dirt and the pine needles and stuff and I went, wow," he said.
"There wasn't a picture of Fossett, but there was a name and I.D. And stuff ... It didn't pop in my head right at that time who that was."
Fossett's disappearance had baffled rescuers who found no trace of the 63-year-old adventurer despite a massive search that involved dozens of aircraft taking to the skies to scour the region.
A multi-millionaire who made his fortune dealing stocks in Chicago, Fossett set dozens of world records in sailboats, gliders and hot-air balloons.
He famously made the first solo nonstop, non-refueled circumnavigation of the world in 67 hours in the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer. In 2002, he was the first person to fly solo around the world in a balloon.
In February, an Illinois judge declared Fossett legally dead at the request of his widow, who issued a recent statement that there were "no further plans for additional searching."
Fossett's iconic status and the unusual circumstances around his demise have brought comparisons to the enduring question of what happened to aviator Amelia Earhart, who vanished over the Pacific Ocean in 1937.
Fossett's friend and fellow adventurer, British tycoon Sir Richard Branson, said he hoped this week's discoveries would lay to rest conspiracy theories surrounding the case.
"The positive thing is that today, a couple of stories that have appeared in the press, they'll be put to rest once and for all, and everybody who was close to Steve will have the chance now to pay the right a tribute to what was a truly great and extraordinary person," Branson told Sky News television.
"They're definitely authentic belongings, it was his pilot license, his drivers license, it was also a membership card to the national aeronautic association which gave Stephen an award a couple of years ago," Branson said.
"He also often carried 100-dollar bills with him so we are certain that these are genuine findings."