Steve Fossett, American adventurer, missing in Nevada

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Fossett was likely lost after takeoff from a ranch 30 miles south of Yerington NV and flying in the area south of that point.   Here’s a Google map of that area.

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47 Responses to Steve Fossett, American adventurer, missing in Nevada

  1. Fools Gold says:

    Area is vast, sparsely settled.
    His actual destination was not known. As is customary, no flight plan was filed.

    Rather than overstressing the aircraft in an aerobatic maneuver some error in mountain flying is more likely.
    Failure to clear a ridgetop due to adverse wind conditions or even a fundamental error such as flying into a box canyon or other terrain that is rising faster than the plane can climb are possible.

    I wonder about the Crash Position Indicator not sending a signal? Battery? Armed v. On issues? Water? Signals are often masked by terrain or sharp canyon walls that bounce the signal can be a problem.

  2. Fools Gold says:

    Wired News:
    “…As the search for missing adventurer Steve Fossett continues in the torturous desert ravines of Nevada, Reuters reports that his friend Richard Branson has contacted Google to see if the latest Google Earth satellite images contain clues to his whereabouts. …”

  3. Fools Gold says:

    Flying M Ranch (Hunt Club) near Smith Valley was takeoff point but ‘four to five hours of flight’ still leaves alot of territory to explore. No one seems to have known his destination(s) and he might have deviated from any planned but nondisclosed route anyway.

  4. JoeDuck says:

    I’ve wondered how often Google reviews Satellite stuff. I suppose it’ll someday be possible to see real time satellite imagery which is updated constantly?

  5. Fools Gold says:

    I think the DIFFERENCE between satellite passes is vital. What is there now that was NOT there on the previous satellite view?

    Note: Although radar tapes from ATC have been made available, radar coverage is spotty in the area and the plane was never assigned a transponder code so he would have been sqwaking 1200 if at all. It might be just primary return which means very little as far as specific identification.

  6. Fools Gold says:

    It seems that in addition to an onboard Crash Position Indicator the pilot owned and usually wore a wrist watch that could also send a signal.

    Onboard survival gear, if any, is not known but inability to activate his watch does not bode well for rescue.

    I have no idea of the granularity of satellite images but would hope that a comparison of prior to the flight images and after the flight images taken at same time of day would show atleast the major differences even though the searchers are looking for a very small plane in a very large area.

  7. Fools Gold says:

    Plane is ofcourse very small but it is Blue over White and I would think this would be a start contrast to the terrain and would stand out against the background if it is largely intact.

    If a five thousand dollar watch isn’t helping him I don’t know what would. He is known to own the watch and to usually wear it, so he probably has it on.

    Blue is not a common color in sandy or rocky areas, why is it not locatable by computer analysis?

  8. Fools Gold says:

    Search area EXPANDED from 600 square miles to 10,000 square miles. Sonar equipped boat to be launched on lake nearer the take off point.

  9. JoeDuck says:

    Amazon has a way to have volunteers review the satellite imagery as they did with the Jim Gray search:

  10. Fools Gold says:

    Civil Air Patrol has expanded its search area and is using a Gipplsand GA-8 Airvan equipped with Airborne Real-Time Cueing Hyperspectral Enhanced Reconnaissance system.

    ARCHER works by programming a set of parameters describing the target’s colour and shape into an onboard computer to differentiate a potential target from background clutter; the computer then takes a picture of light reflected back from an object on the ground and relays the information back to base. ARCHER can identify a target using as little as ten percent of its characteristics.

    I would expect that a debris field would not look like an airplane and that even a relatively intact plane could crash in unusual attitudes.

  11. Fools Gold says:

    Friends have determined that he took but one canteen of water with him when he took off.
    Not looking good at all.

  12. JoeDuck says:

    I had not heard about the lack of water on board. Unless he crashed near water his prospects of surviving seem very dim indeed. Also, since he’s very experienced it seems he would have etched some symbol into the eground if at all possible.

  13. Fools Gold says:

    Yes, any bright color is good.
    Also. IF he felt obliged to leave the more visible wreckage and travel on foot, he would know that rocks set to form an arrow in the direction of his travel should be set out. He has both training and experience in survival under extreme conditions but his having a satellite watch that has not been activated is indicative of a catastrophic failure of some sort. The purpose of his trip was to scout locations for a land speed record, this would involve flying in such a manner as to observe the terrain closely and therefore flight into rising terrain is a possibility. I know the massive image analysis is underway assisted by volunteers but I don’t understand why successive satellite images are not simply subtracted: ie Take image from before the flight and image at same time of day after the flight and investigate any difference in the two. Rocks don’t move and shadows should be the same too. Anything NEW would be a ROI (Region of Interest) to Mechanical Turk analysis.
    No word yet on whether ARCHER plane’s onboard artificial intelligence processing of multi-spectral data is helping.
    Calls for additional but expereinced helicopter observers are still in effect as are calls for small helicopters uniquely suited for this search and experienced helicopter pilots able to remain on the search for awhile.
    Still… its worrisome that there are no signals at all. He would know by now that neither his CPI signal nor his watch signal was getting picked up.

  14. Kip says:

    remote viewer Ed Dames, dr. doom, has located Fosset crash location

  15. Dan says:

    Well, I hope Steve Fossett is still alive, but from a body-recovery point of view I was wondering if it’s possible to do a Doppler-radar-based search for circling vultures. I doubt there are more than a few hundred locations where vultures are circling within a hundred-mile radius of the ranch at any one time. Ten planes could inspect them all in a few hours.

  16. Fools Gold says:

    Re: 16 -vultures.

    Good thinking. Ofcourse I think that vultures circling is a Hollywood thing and wonder if radar is effective that close to the ground anyway what with backscatter and clutter. How do you use radar in a mountainous area? And how many false leads do you get from other birds just out for a lark?

  17. Dan says:

    I think vultures circle while they are waiting for a sick or dying animal to lose the capability of defending itself. Once the animal is unconscious the vultures land and start eating. So there would be a limited time to detect them circling. From a computational point of view I think it would work to automatically detect statistically large numbers of birds aloft in a small area for say 15 minutes or longer. The mountains though I think could be a big problem. One might need lots of ground-based radars scattered around the search area. I have no idea how much radars cost. This idea might be more practical in a flat search area. I should probably submit this idea at!

  18. Fools Gold says:

    Don’t sell your idea short, Dan!

    Blowflies have been known to find rotting flesh three miles upwind. Carion eaters such as vultures or ravens or crows might be of use. Remember the Bureau of Land Management already has experimental drones that are used in rangeland surveillance so its not an entirely alien field for them to consider surveillance of wildlife for other reasons than range management.

    I don’t know if the ‘radar return’ of a buzzard is all that different than that of another type of bird. Perhaps it is. Size, tissue density, etc. If only the birds carried radar reflectors aloft with them! Ofcourse the buzzards might be feasting on a dead burro or something.

    Just as that ARCHER program uses UV light and infrared light to search, so too could bird concentrations be used to assist in identifying regions of interest for later exploration.

  19. Fools Gold says:

    NYTimes article discussing the over 99 percent false alarm rate for ELTs. Analog based low power 121.5 and probably 243MHz will be phased out in favor of 406 MHz digital-only signals twenty times stronger. The major advantage seems to be that the new ELTs signature indicates its owner’s identity.

    In the Fossett crash we don’t know if it was an instrument failure or battery failure or terrain blockage. If the plane did crash into a lake there would be no satellite detection. Low flying craft might pick up a signal from a deep ravine but would also pickup echos.

    I’d like the crash site found even if it just answers some questions. The number of previously undiscovered wrecks in that area shows searches are not too successful usually.

  20. Fools Gold says:

    Wife revealed a $5,000.00 watch owned and usually worn by him, but not on this trip for some reason.

    Woman reported sound of low flying plane then sound of crash and smoke… no idea why she has just now reported it. This was just over the state line into California.

  21. Fools Gold says:

    Conjecture on route of flight:

    Let us consider what a person would do if he wished to consider a variety of locations that he thought might be suitable for the high speed land trials:

    Fly to the most likely candidate first.
    Fly first to the area containing the highest concentration of likely candidates.
    Fly first to the most distant candidate.
    Fly first to the most distant candidate which would also then allow a flight to a re-fueling center.
    Fly to a site that would allow optimal viewing in relation to time of day, shadows, etc.


  22. Fools Gold says:

    What about flight in a direction for comfort from direct rays of the sun or comfort of a return flight with regard to avoiding flying into a setting sun?

  23. Fools Gold says:

    The problem is that some information seems to be contradictory: now I’m hearing it was a simple pleasure flight and that he was NOT scouting possible sites for high speed trials on that particular flight.

  24. JoeDuck says:

    The pleasure flight scenario really changes things – had not heard that yet or the crash report. It seems very odd that she would not have called that in immediately.

  25. Fools Gold says:

    The FAA barred civilian aircraft from flying less than 2,000 feet above ground level in a 50 mile area around the Flying M Ranch.

    “We’re basically trying to keep the looky-loos and those trying to be helpful out of the search area,” Locke said.

  26. Fools Gold says:

    In the usual Public-Relations-Speak that crafty politicians use, searches are ‘suspended’ or ‘curtailed’ or ‘cut-back’. Anything to avoid an embarassing pre-mature end to the search.

    Now the CAP had “cut back” the resources from ’20 planes and 60 searchers’ to ‘2 planes and a small team on standby at a nearby airport’ where a CAP sqadron is normally based.

    In other words, its over!

    The Civil Air Patrol, which had 20 planes and 60 searchers aloft over the weekend, suspended further flights and left two planes and a small team on standby at the airport here.

  27. Fools Gold says:

    We’ve got 2007 technology. … that can count beer cans in the back of pickup. But we haven’t found an airplane. That’s what’s frustrating,” Sanford said. (Sheriff’s deputy in rural Nevada commenting on the ability of aerial surveillance to identify targets in urban areas but not locate a relatively large target in a rural area).

    Perhaps this misplaced ability is a critical point. Sure there can be a problem if the plane went down in water but ELT signals should be detected in rugged, rural terrain. Perhaps too much time and effort is going into the urban area surveillance and tracking technology.

  28. Fools Gold says:

    The Civil Air Patrol, which operates fixed wing aircraft, ended its search.
    The Flying M ranch is still conducting searches with 8 helicopter and 5 fixed wing aircraft. As some of the aircraft have infrared equipment, the search goes on 24 hours a day.

    Ofcourse there is a realization amongst the searchers that very little food and water was carried aboard the craft so that by now survival is unlikely, but the search does continue as does the image analysis effort which is dealing with thousands of tips that must be prioritized.

  29. Dan says:

    Fossett may have flown to or near Death Valley:

    Air force radar and satellite date provided the lead and planes and ground crews will search there this weekend.

  30. Fools Gold says:

    As I understand it, this is 100 miles distant rather than the fifty the searcher were so certain was the proper area to search. The marks being investigated were a combination of image analysis and radar track detection. No verification as yet of anything.

  31. FoolsGold says:

    remote viewer Ed Dames, dr. doom, claims to have located Fosset crash as being somewhere inside a large oval in California extending from Tower Peak to Dardanelle.
    As far as can be determined by my mapping skills (skills???), this off-the-wall prediction from upthread is fairly close to the area that is to be intensively searched this weekend.

  32. FoolsGold says:

    re 32:
    Apparently I had been mis-informed as to the direction of the newly determined intense search area. The flyovers and the insertion of ATVs is in an area well distant from the elongated oval suggested earlier by Ed Dames.

  33. FoolsGold says:

    Intensive search of a particular canyon over the weekend turned up no clues or traces of the missing aviator or his airplane.
    There has been no revelation of what the specific items were that cost the flurry of intense interest in the remote location.

  34. Robert says:

    Does wildlife tag vultures or other scavenger birds and keep tack of them eletronicly? ( eagles crows, magpies). As farmers do with cattle. Would unusual activity in the days after steve went missing provide a clue?
    Why has he not set a fire somewhere?
    Is this just another hollywood made for TV survival stunt. He will just appear someday out of the mountains and another movie deal is made? None the less I hope he’s OK.

  35. FoolsGold says:

    Very good thinking about the electronic tagging of carion eaters but only a few are ever tagged and most of those tags are passive signs, not actively broadcasting their location.

    Injured in crash? Killed in crash? Drowned in a lake?

    The one thing that is certain is that it is not a publicity stunt!

  36. bc says:

    I thought Ed Dames was going in a few weeks ago to search the square mile and get Fossett. When is Ed going to announce the recovery?

  37. FoolsGold says:

    Apparently there are some differences of opinion as to how many human reviewers must concur before an anomaly on an image is used as the basis of a flyby or ground search.
    Image analysis programs seem to have to account in a better manner for differences between an object and its shadow. Learning programs that analyze an image are not always taken at high noon.

  38. FoolsGold says:

    English entrepreneur and search-supporter announces that hia friend, Steve Fossett, is almost certainly dead and that Fossett’s wife will travel to the ranch. Private search efforts apparently are continuing though for quite some time searchers have not held any realistic expectation of his still being alive.

  39. FoolsGold says:

    HAAM slated to start Oct 21st.
    High Altitude Mapping Missions with mulit-spectral analysis at one pixel = 6 centimeters slated to start soon with grid networking analysis of the images for prioritizing any hits with the color blue or with straight edges that might be airplane debris.

  40. FoolsGold says:

    Pilot skill?

    Okay. Let us say something happened. If he was even half alive at the time he could certainly pilot the plane in such a manner as to select a landing zone that was “not bad”. An open meadow, a roadway, desert scrubland… something. Set the plane up for best glide angle and find something that looks more like a meadow than a mountain peak. How hard is that? So lets assume it was some medical incapacitation and the plane simply flew into some inaccessible area by sheer chance: a lake, a deep canyon with sheer sides and dark shadows that hide the wreckage.

    Are there lots of narrow steep canyons in the area?
    People have already looked in the obvious places and not found him.

  41. FoolsGold says:

    If something happened he would set it up for 66 inicated and have a 10:1 glide ratio… but ofcourse we don’t know how high he started or where he started, so even if we could figure how far he could have glided, it won’t help us much. I just mean that an any reasonable altitude and given even the high density altitude environment and a 10:1 glide ratio he would seek out “inviting terrain” or atleast try to avoid “un-inviting terrain”.

  42. FoolsGold says:

    Better reporting form now in use.
    Also each report is given a unique number and anyone can view the reported sighting, a brief comment, an evaluation indicator of its later analysis, so the contributor and others can all get almost “live” feedback as to whether the contributor’s sighting is new, whether others think it is a good candidate or not, etc.

  43. FoolsGold says:

    Better forms and better feedback… but still no crash site!

  44. FoolsGold says:

    Better forms, better feedback, better ways of generating overlays, better ways of sending them, better ways of having overlays center on the suspected object rather than corners of maps or something, better agreement on standardized procedures, better understanding of different coordinate systems and the difference between half a degree being .5 in some systems and .3 in others……… but still no Steve Fosset wreckage location!!!

    In one recent search in Australia resources were wasted searching over a hundred miles away from the crash site despite two witnesses having heard the crash and one witness having seen the plane in the area and being uniquely qualified to identify it since her husband owned the exact same model. If people ignored or downrated such good data, what did they do with bad data?

  45. FoolsGold says:

    Widow of Steve Fosset has formally petitioned the Cook County court for a determination of death. Its been obvious to all searchers and family members that death had to have taken place well before this. Everyone knows they are only looking for the crash site, not a survivor.

    Yet somehow we will all be plodding on.

  46. Remote Viewer says:

    Steve was heading & funding a group expedition to the north pole. Remote viewers were invited. The expedition was delayed but someone is now coordinating it where Steve left off.

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