Search crews found the wreckage of Steve Fossett's airplane within a quarter of a mile from this week's discovery of identification cards that belonged to Fossett. Later developments lincluded the discovery of a bone that law enforcement said would have to be examined by medical authorities to detrmine identity. A National Transportation Safety Board spokesman stated publicly that " a little bit of human remains had been found."
The NTSB press conference, held Thursday afternoon at the Westin Hotel in Mammoth Lakes, focused on the agency's investigation of the crash toward determination of the cause. But when questioned about human reamains, Mark Rosenker said that "very little" had been found. When asked what kind of remains, Rosenker said he would not answer that. He was asked if enough was found to determine DNA. His response was, "I believe the coroner will be able to do some work."
Later, law enforcement clarified that the discovery that was made was not conclusively Fossett's remains and would need medical examination to make a determination.
Much more is known about the plane wreckage. Madera County Sheriff John Anderson received word Wednesday night from a search and rescue team member that there appeared to be something in the dense forest that looked like it could be wreckage of a plane.
Ground teams did later confirm that the find was a plane and that the tag from the aircraft matched the plane Fossett was flying when he disappeared last September.
As we have reported, Preston Morrow of Mammoth Lakes found Fossett's identification cards while on a hike off the Minaret Trail on Monday. Authorities said that Morrow found Fossett's Federal Aviation card and his Soaring Society of America card. He also found ten one hundred dollar bills in the same vicinity. Both the cards and the cash were well-worn from the elements.
This discovery led to the search for Fossett's plane and remains. Fossett's accident was described Thursday as a high-impact crash which would have caused the famous pilot to die instantly. The engine of the plane was found 300 feet away from most of the wreckage. The mangled parts of the plane were spread over a wide area.
Public Information Officer for the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board), Terry Williams,said that the agency has taken a preliminary look at the wreckage. "We're in the very early stages of our investigation," he said. Williams said the NTSB would move the wreckage out of the mountains on Friday and to a facility somewhere for intensive investigation. A helicopter and sling-like mechanism would be used to move the aircraft wreckage. "There are certain things the aircraft itself will tell us about what happened."
Williams said typically it takes the NTSB a year to complete an investigation "because we are very thorough," he said. The agency does hope to have an answer on Fossett's plane crash within 6 months.
The 63 year old, world-famous aviator was also known for the fortune he amassed trading futures and options on Chicago markets. He gained fame for more than 100 attempts and sccesses to set records in high-tech balloons,gliders, jets and boats. In 2002, he claimed fame for being the first person to circle the world solo in a balloon. He was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in July of 2007. He was last seen when he took off on a flight from the Flying M Ranch in Nevada.
A wide and extensive search followed his disappearance. The Civil Air Patrol and many others searched for days over a wide vicinity of Nevada and California.
(Photos, courtesy of Mono County Search and Rescue)