Various news sources are reporting that Steve Fossett's wreckage has been found in the vicinity of Mammoth Lakes, California. There are a few interesting bits about what I've heard and read so far, but first have a look at the terrain that area.
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There are ski runs nearby and the crest of the Sierra Nevada mountains isn't far either. The Mammoth Yosemite Airport sits at an elevation of 7,128 feet and the nearby ridges and peaks easily top 10,000.
In fact, the impact appears to have happen around 10,000 feet and was consistent with flying directly into terrain. The fuselage apparently disintegrated and the engine was found several hundred feet from the impact location.
My suspicion is that Steve had some sort of in-flight medical problem. He was a very experienced pilot and likely wouldn't have been doing any acro at that altitude (though is plane probably could have). And even if there was engine trouble, he'd have had the sense to try to get it down safely or at least slowly.
The NTSB should be able to figure out if the engine was running at the time of impact. But first they have to get all the wreckage transported to somewhere it can be studied.
The other puzzling thing is that he was supposed to be out look at dry lakes. There aren't really any dry lakes up there. Maybe 15-30 minutes away, down in the Owens Valley and beyond, but not up near the Sierra Crest.
I'm curious to hear what the NTSB and FAA are able to figure from all of this.
Posted by jzawodn at October 02, 2008 02:21 PM