Total Persons on Board:
Departed at about 8:45 AM, September 3rd, 2007
Clear and warm - typical late summer weather for the region
Departed from the private airstrip at "Flying M Ranch" near Yerington, Nevada, on a local area flight.
Area Believed Crashed:
The high desert and mountains of Nevada and central California - between Walker Lake and Mono Lake.
Reason for flight:
It was initially believed that Fossett was searching for a suitable lake bed for a world land speed record attempt, however searchers now believe that he may not have ventured as far as first thought, and may have only been on a local pleasure flight.
A single-engine Bellanca 8KCAB "Super Decathlon" fixed-wing, aerocbatic taildragger airplane, tail number N240R
No Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) signal was received, although the plane was equipped with one.
On September 8th, five days into the search, the first of a series of new high resolution imagery from DigitalGlobe was made available via the Amazon Mechanical Turk website so that users could flag potential areas of interest to search in what is known as 'crowdsourcing'. Volunteers inspected grids of 278 square feet, and flagged anything that they believe contained anything that merited follow-up.
Click here to join the search for Fossett via Amazon's Mechanical Turk
A two week long search ensued, covering an area estimated to be 20,000 square miles - twice the size of the state of New Jersey. The Civil Air Patrol's search effort was scaled back on September 17th, 2007, to only one "grounded" plane.
On September 20th, 2007 - the search was officially "called off", although a private aerial effort, financed by Fossett's wife Peggy, continues.
Volunteer Civil Air Patrol pilots in up to 28 planes made 245 flights over the two weeks. The Nevada Air National Guard had five helicopters searching, with state agencies having spent $600,000 on the effort.
Click here to purchase items relating to the search effort (via CafePress)
Controversy and Other Notes:
At least eight times during the search, rescue crews have spotted airplane wreckage they thought might be Fossett’s - only to learn they were from crashes years, and sometimes decades, ago. The media often reported these all as undiscovered wreck sites. In truth, all had been documented prior to 2007 - but removed or absent from searcher's records.
It was at first thought that Fossett may have also been wearing a Swiss-made "Breitling Emergency" watch with a manually operated ELT having a range of up to 90 miles, but no signal was received from it, and on September 13th, Fossett's wife, Peggy, issued a statement clarifying that he did own such a watch, but was not wearing it when he took off for the Labor Day flight
Fossett was declared legally dead on February 15, 2008, by Cook County Circuit Judge Jeffrey Malak.