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October News 2008
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Post: #1
October News 2008
Steve Fossett's airplane found
Plane wreckage
Mono County Sheriff's Search & Rescue
The Madera County sheriff reports that the wreckage found in Inyo National Forest is that of Steve Fossett's single-engine plane. Fossett disappeared more than a year ago.

By Jia-Rui Chong and Steve Chawkins, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers
11:16 AM PDT, October 2, 2008
MAMMOTH LAKES -- As day was breaking through the clouds at the Mammoth Lakes Airport, authorities confirmed today that search and rescue crews had found the plane of missing adventurer Steve Fossett.

Madera County Sheriff John Anderson said crews flying overhead Wednesday evening spotted what they thought was the wreckage in a mountainous area just west of the Minarets, a series of craggy peaks in the Sierra Nevada.

"They went in and they did locate the aircraft, which we have now confirmed is the one that Steve Fossett was flying when it disappeared last Labor Day," Anderson said.

Search crews went in after they received global positioning system coordinates from the aircraft, and officials were able to reach the wreckage and confirm around 11 p.m. that it was Fossett's plane. The identification number of Fossett's plane matched the number on the wreckage, he said.

The wreckage was spread out; the engine was found about 300 feet away from the fuselage and the wings.

"It appeared to me, just looking at the pictures, it was a head-on crash into the side of the mountain, into a rock," Anderson said. "The plane moved in an upward direction for 100 feet or so, and disintegrated."

No belongings or human remains were found in the wreckage, Anderson said. He saw photographs of the plane, and "the crash looked to be so severe that I doubt if someone would have walked away from it."

The wreckage was found about a quarter-mile from where the ID cards were found. Officials suspect an animal may have carried the items away.

"What it means is that we know for sure," Anderson said. "There were questions yesterday that perhaps someone threw the cards or money out the window. Now we know the plane was there, the plane crashed, and we probably have a pretty good indication that Steve Fossett's remains are still up in the mountains somewhere."

Five investigators from the National Transportation and Safety Board arrived this morning from Washington, D.C., and were preparing to visit the wreckage. Mark Rosenker, acting chairman of the NTSB, said investigators had reviewed preliminary information and photographs from the scene.

"That information is indicative of a high-impact crash, which appears to be consistent with a non-survivable accident," he said.

Because the investigation began about a year ago, the NTSB already has witness statements and the plane's maintenance record, Rosenker said. But he said investigators had previously been unable to make a preliminary determination because they had no wreckage to examine.

"Obviously that's going to change," he said.

Investigators are now looking at medical records and plan to bring portions of the wreckage to a facility to examine the parts more carefully, he said. A contractor is expected to bring a helicopter Friday to airlift the parts out.

"It will take us weeks, perhaps months, to have a better understanding of what happened on that mountain that day," Rosenker said.

Anderson said the Madera County Sheriff's Department would launch 50 search-and-rescue people and five canine teams from numerous agencies in California and Nevada to look for Fossett's remains. He said officials planned an "arm-to-arm search" over a one-mile area around the crash site.

The Civil Air Patrol, a civilian volunteer group organized by the U.S. Air Force, searched that area 19 times during the initial search last year, but did so in fixed-wing aircraft flying 1,000 feet above ground level. The wreckage was sighted by helicopters flying as low as 200 feet from the ground.

Anderson said officials would try to do as much work as possible before an expected snowstorm moved in this afternoon.

"If it in fact snows, that's going to obliterate any hope of finding the remains or further evidence," Anderson said.

Preston Morrow, 43, the Mammoth Lakes hiker who found the ID cards and cash, attended a news conference this morning at the airport. He said he was relieved and happy that his finds had led to further answers to Fossett's disappearance.

Although he did not know the family, "if I was in their shoes, I'd be very, very happy to know what finally happened," he said.

Morrow said he was far off-trail Monday when he found the cash and ID cards. He had hiked from Devil's Postpile down the Minaret Lake Trail while exploring the area with his dog, Kona. He went about four miles on the trail, then wandered a few miles off. He was exploring, trying to find some mines, but he never got there.

"If this was a regular trail, this stuff would have been found a long, long time ago, because that trail is used all summer long," he said.

Morrow said he spotted the ID cards as he was hiking down a slope, and he "just happened to look that way." He initially did not link the name on the cards to the missing adventurer.

"I thought a bear stole it from a backpack," he said. But the next morning it clicked, and he went out to the site with some friends, his wife and a videographer to document what he had found and get accurate GPS coordinates to give to authorities, he said.

He turned over the items to authorities Wednesday. They "were pretty excited, because they knew," Morrow said.

Fossett, 63, disappeared more than a year ago while on a solo pleasure flight from a remote ranch in Nevada. The subsequent search for him spanned about 24,000 square miles, including the high country of the Eastern Sierra Nevada.

"It's a needle in a haystack -- and you have to find the haystack first," Nevada emergency services official Jeff Page said.

Fossett, who grew up in Garden Grove, made millions in the securities market but is best known for the 116 records he set in gliders, powered aircraft, balloons and sailboats. In 2005, he became the first person to fly a fixed-wing aircraft alone around the world without stopping or refueling.

An Illinois court declared Fossett dead Feb. 15.

His widow, Peggy Fossett, issued a statement Wednesday alluding to "the discovery by a hiker of personal items that appear to belong to my husband."

"I am hopeful that this search will locate the crash site and my husband's remains," she said. "I am grateful to all of those involved in this effort."

Although the disappearance of the supremely experienced aviator on a September day with perfect flying weather has been a mystery, some key people in the previous search for him said Wednesday that a crash in the Sierra is a plausible possibility.

Fossett had taken off on what he had said would be a short morning flight from hotel magnate and aviation enthusiast William Barron Hilton's Flying-M Ranch, about 60 miles southeast of Carson City, toward Bishop, Calif.

The plane carries 40 gallons of fuel, which would have been more than enough for a hop over the Sierra and back, Sanford said. Fossett left his cellphone and a GPS unit, and was vague about where he was going.
02-10-2008 12:40 PM
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Post: #2
Three More Bone Fragments Found at Fossett Crash Site
03-10-2008 09:32 PM
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Post: #3
Three More Bone Fragments Found at Fossett Crash Site (Video)
03-10-2008 09:33 PM
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Post: #4
KNBC video and story on Fossett
hiker video
Video: Thursday PM News Conference
Images Of Wreckage, Personal Items
Imaged of foster
October 4, 2008: Three More Bone Fragments Found At Crash Site Of Fossett's Plane
October 2, 2008: NTSB: Remains Found At Fossett Wreckage Site
KNBC Articles about Steve Fossett
KNBC Articles about Mammoth Lakes Relating to Fossett

NTSB: Body Parts Found Among Wreckage Of Fossett's Plane
Fossett's Plane 'Crashed Head-On Into The Side of A Mountain'

POSTED: 10:19 am PDT October 1, 2008
UPDATED: 6:46 am PDT October 3, 2008

Search teams found body parts among the wreckage of missing adventurer Steve Fossett's airplane in the Inyo National Forest, authorities said Thursday afternoon.

National Transportation Safety Board officials said the oblong piece of bone was discovered by a sheriff's department investigator in a stretch of debris. The bone, described as suitable for DNA testing, is human and is being sent to a California Department of Justice lab for testing.

After an aerial search late Wednesday spotted what appeared to be wreckage near the town of Mammoth Lakes, ground crews were dispatched to the site, Madera County Sheriff John Anderson said. They confirmed around 11 p.m. that the tail number matched Fossett's single-engine Bellanca plane.

NTSB acting chairman Mark Rosenker said Thursday that searchers had found "very little" at the scene but enough to provide coroners with DNA. Rosenker said it was not surprising how little they uncovered considering how long it had been since the crash.

"Given the length of time that the wreckage has been there, it is not surprising to come into a debris field and not find a lot of remains," Rosenker said.

The aircraft appeared to have crashed head-on into the side of a mountain, according to the sheriff. Most of the fuselage disintegrated on impact, and the engine was found several hundred feet away.

"It appeared to me, just looking at the pictures, that it was a head-on crash into the side of a mountain," Anderson said. "The plane moved up for 100 feet and disintegrated. The engine was found about 300 feet farther than the fuselage."

Wreckage removal is to start Friday morning with a contractor, who will "probably" remove pieces with a helicopter. The California Guard is assisting the NTSB with Black Hawk helicopters. Five "dog teams" also aided the NTSB.

Authorities said about six months will be needed to complete the investigation.

An NTSB briefing is set for Friday.

The search began earlier in the week, after a hiker stumbled upon three identification cards and cash apparently belonging to Fossett in the area. The IDs provided the first possible clue about Fossett's whereabouts since he disappeared Sept. 3, 2007, after taking off from a Nevada ranch owned by hotel magnate Barron Hilton.

National Transportation Safety Bureau officials conducted a news conference Thursday afternoon. Authorities said they are doing an initial survey of the debris field, which is about 150 feet wide and nearly 400 feet long.

Aviators had previously flown over Mammoth Lakes, about 90 miles south of the ranch, in the search for Fossett, but it had not been considered a likely place to find the plane. The most intense searching was concentrated to the north of the town, given what searchers knew about sightings of Fossett's plane, his plans for when he had intended to return and the amount of fuel he had in the plane.

KNBC's Patrick Healy said previous aerial searches -- nearly 20 -- were at higher elevations.

The information on the pilot license -- including Fossett's name, address, date of birth and certificate number -- was sent in a photograph to the Federal Aviation Administration, and all matched the agency's records, spokesman Ian Gregor said.

"We're trying to determine the authenticity of the document," Gregor said.

Hiker Describes Discovery

The hiker, Preston Morrow, said he found an FAA identity card, a pilot's license, a third ID and $1,005 in cash tangled in a bush off a trail just west of the town of Mammoth Lakes on Monday. He said he turned the items over to local police Wednesday after unsuccessful attempts to contact Fossett's family.

Morrow, 43, told KNBC Wednesday morning that he was "way, way off trail" on Monday when he found the items. Morrow said it appeared the items had been dropped at the location, possibly by an animal.

"It was exactly what you've heard," Morrow said of the items. "An ID with his name on it, and two laminated cards that had his name, but I couldn't tell what they were.

"What also caught my attention in the pine needles and the dirt were some $100 bills. That kind of caught my eye.

"Being honest, his name didn't pop in my head immediately. All that popped into my head was that a bear found somebody's (items) and dragged them away to find food. Why else would you find it there?"

Morrow said he was in rough terrain at about 4 p.m. He said the items were worn, as if they had been in the elements for an extended period.

Morrow said he found no sign of a plane or any human remains.

Morrow, who works in a Mammoth Lakes sporting goods store, said he initially didn't connect the items to the famed Fossett. It wasn't until he showed the items to co-workers Tuesday that one of them recognized Fossett's name.

"It was just weird to find that much money in the backcountry, and the IDs," he said in an interview. "My immediate thought was it was a hiker or backpacker's stuff, and a bear got to the stuff and took it away to look for food or whatever."

Morrow said he returned to the scene Tuesday to search further with his wife and three others, including a videographer who took video and photographs during the trip.

During that search, the group did not find any airplane wreckage or human remains, Morrow said. They did find a black Nautica pullover fleece, size XL, in the same area, but he wasn't sure if the items were related.

Morrow said he consulted local attorney David Baumwohl, and they initially tried to contact the Fossett family but were unable to get through to their lawyers.

"We figured if it was us, we'd want to know first. We wouldn't want to learn from the news," Baumwohl said.

Baumwohl and Morrow tried to contact the law firm that handled the death declaration. When they weren't successful, they decided to turn everything over to the police, the attorney said.

Fossett's Family Reacts

Fossett, whose exploits included circumnavigating the globe in a balloon, disappeared Sept. 3, 2007, after taking off in a single-engine plane borrowed from a Nevada ranch owned by hotel magnate Barron Hilton. A judge declared Fossett legally dead in February following a search for the famed aviator that covered 20,000 square miles.

Fossett's widow, Peggy, said in a statement Wednesday that she was aware of Morrow's discovery.

"The uncertainty surrounding my husband's death over this past year has created a very difficult situation for me. 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.

"I am grateful to all those on the ground in California who have responded so quickly and effectively since this discovery was made on Monday. I especially want to thank Preston Morrow who made this discovery and turned Steve's belongings over to the authorities. I am anxious to learn of the circumstances and cause of this tragic accident from the official report of the NTSB. I want to take this opportunity to thank all the people who have contacted me over this past year with kind thoughts and well wishes."

Mammoth Lakes is at an elevation of more than 7,800 feet on the eastern flank of the Sierra Nevada, where peaks top 13,000 feet. This year's biggest search for Fossett focused on Nevada's Wassuk Range, more than 50 miles north of Mammoth Lakes. That search ended last month.

The California Civil Air Patrol and private planes from Hilton's ranch previously had flown over the area, but it was "extremely rough country," said Joe Sanford, undersheriff in Lyon County, Nev., which was involved in the initial search.

One of Fossett's friends reacted to Wednesday's news with cautious optimism.

If the belongings turn out to be authentic, then that could help narrow the search area for possible wreckage, said Ray Arvidson, a scientist at Washington University who worked on Fossett's past balloon flights.

"It would be nice to get closure," Arvidson said.

Fossett's Records

Fossett made a fortune trading futures and options on Chicago markets. He gained worldwide fame for more than 100 attempts and successes in setting records in high-tech balloons, gliders, jets and boats.

In 2002, Fossett became the first person to fly around the world alone in a balloon, after five previous attempts.

In March 2005, he became the first person to fly a plane solo around the world without refueling.

He and a co-pilot also claim to have set a world glider altitude record of 50,671 feet during a flight in August 2006 over the Andes Mountains.

Fossett has climbed some of the world's tallest peaks, including the Matterhorn in Switzerland and Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. He also swam the English Channel in 1985, placed 47th in the Iditarod dog sled race in 1992 and participated in the 24 Hours of Le Mans car race in 1996.

In 1995, Fossett became the first person to fly solo across the Pacific Ocean in a balloon, landing in Leader, Saskatchewan, Canada.

He was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in July 2007.

Fossett lived with his wife in a home in Beaver Creek, Colo.
03-10-2008 09:49 PM
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shirley Offline
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Post: #5
New policy to speed, prosecution (Raids on property owners)
New policy to speed, prosecution.

Valley Press Special Sections Editor

LAKE HUGHES - The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, working with the District Attorney's Office, believes it has found a way to speed prosecution of property owners who fail to clean up nuisance properties in the Lakes and Valley communities of Lake Hughes, Elizabeth Lake, Leona Valley and Green Valley.

Deputy Robert Ferrell, of the Palmdale Sheriff's Station's community policing team, told residents at Saturday's Lakes Town Council meeting that the Sheriff's Department, in concert with Los Angeles County, has a new policy that should speed up prosecution of offending property owners.
The change in policy came in response to community complaints about the extended It-ngth of time it has been taking to clean up problem properties and prosecute offending property owners.

Under the old policy, Ferrell said, it has taken m excess of six months in some cases to prosecute offenders who fail to respond to orders to clean
up junk and/or deal with other code violations.

Under the new policy, Ferrell said, a complaint allows for inspection of the property and the issuance of a 30-day written order to the owner to clean up, fix or respond to the complaint. .
After 31 days, the property is reinspected. If the owner has not complied with the written order, a citation is issued with a 60-day notice for the owner to appear in court.

"Complaints were just taking too long," Ferrell told residents. "We think (the new policy) meets the court requirements. The DA's office is behind us.
"It has been frustrating for us too because we want these things to go away, too."

Ferrell said the old policy caused a slowdown with the county building and safety and zoning and code enforcement departments because their hdnds were tied as to the timeline under which action could be taken.
Nuisance property complaints can be made to the county Department of Building Safety's code enforcement division at (626) 458-3193.
A complaint form also can be filled out and filed online at

Complaints can include junk or hazardous property, unsafe buildings, unpermitted structures and noninspected work.
Lake Hughes resident Dahlia Grossman asked what recourse residents have to address problems with off-roaders on private property.
Ferrell said county code does address complaints for nuisance off-roaders on their own property and for trespassing violations on other people's property.

Neighbors can file a complaint about neighbors off-roading on their own property if they are creating noise, dust and pollution (exhaust) problems.
Those off-roading illegally on someone else's property can be cited for trespassing, he said.

Elizabeth Lake resident Robin Kennard, also a member of the Angeles Forest Valleys and Lakes Fire Safe Council, asked what residents can do when deputies are not responding to off= roading complaints.

Kennard said while working a Neighborhood Watch program last week, citizens encountered a half-dozen unmuffled off-roaders trespassing on the Featherston property at Johnson and Elizabeth Lake roads at 12:45 a.m. Numerous citizens complained but no deputies responded.

Ferrell said residents should give deputies about 10 minutes or so to respond, and after that should contact the on-duty watch deputy or sergeant.

"If deputies don't respond there is probably a good reason," Ferrell added.
Complaints of nuisance off-roaders can be made by contacting the Palmdale Sheriff's Station, (661) 272-2400.
08-10-2008 01:17 PM
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shirley Offline
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Post: #6
eSolar and Southern California Edison to Produce 245 MW of Solar Power
08-10-2008 01:46 PM
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Post: #7
DNA tests confirm bones belong to Fossett
DNA tests confirm bones belong to Fossett

Posted Tue Nov 4, 2008 10:00am AEDT
Pilot of the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer, Steve Fossett, poses next to the aircraft

Bones found: Steve Fossett (Reuters: Rick Fowler, file photo)
Genetic tests on two bones found near the wreckage of Steve Fossett's airplane in the mountains of California near Nevada confirm the missing millionaire adventurer is dead, local authorities said.

"A California Department of Justice Forensics lab has determined that items containing DNA, discovered last week, match James Stephen Fossett's DNA," the statement by the Madera County, California's sheriff-coroner's office said.

A sheriff's spokeswoman said the bones were discovered last Wendesday.

Fossett, 63, vanished after taking off in a single-engine Bellanca Citabria Super Decathlon on September 3, 2007, from the airstrip of hotel magnate Barron Hilton's ranch in Nevada, sparking a long and massive, but fruitless, search.

Early last month local authorities discovered the wreckage of the aircraft after a hiker not far from Yosemite National Park found identification cards belonging to Fossett, prompting a search that uncovered the crash site.
04-11-2008 09:04 AM
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