- New leads from Air Force experts have prompted Nevada authorities to restart the search this weekend for missing adventurer Steve Fossett in four counties near the Death Valley.
- The Nevada National Guard will not take part in the search.
- On the web, virtual searchers have been checking out satellite images for weeks.
New York. Did Steve Fossett’s (Photo Phil Romans) plane crash near the Death Valley on September 3? Sheriffs and volunteers will scan the ground in four Nevada counties this weekend to try to find the missing adventurer. New leads have prompted authorities to restart the search for Fossett. “Air Force experts analyzed data from military and civilian radars, said Chuck Allen, State Trooper with the Nevada Department of Public Safety. They made deductions and narrowed the search to an area of about 100 square miles”.
In Chicago, people at the stevefossett.com headquarters had no such information leading them to think that the missing businessman might be close to the Death Valley. “According to my people on the ground, these reports are false, said Brian Spaeth, a spokesman for the Fossett challenge. We will not take part in the operation this weekend”.
The search remains limited. The Nevada National Guard has stopped its own search-and-rescue mission on September 18 and will not fly again over the area highlighted by the U.S. Air Force experts. The hope to find Fossett alive is almost non-existent. “There is only so much a man on his own can do in the desert, said captain April Conway, spokeswoman for the Nevada National Guard. If he was alive, he would have signaled”.
Despite their inability to find any trace of the missing aviator, Fossett’s family and friends are not giving up their private search. On Tuesday September 25, a plane with sophisticated camera gear flew again over the desert. Thousands of Internet users have joined the online search for Fossett. Early in the rescue effort, billionaire Richard Branson, a friend of the missing aviator, got the help of Google Earth and Amazon.
Google quickly requested from its providers new satellite images of the zone, where Mr Fossett’s plane went missing. Google passed those images along to Amazon.com. And Amazon’s powerful tool divided an area of 10,000 square miles into smaller zones and assigned them to people, who signed up to help find the adventurer.
Captain Conway said the National Guard got emails all over the world and followed some leads. “At one one point, our folks were directly in contact with the people at Google Earth but the search was unsuccessful”.
In Chicago, Brain Spaeth said that 20 people keep exploring any inch of the satellite images to try to find a trace of the adventurer. “A lot of people responded to our calls for support, he said. But nothing came out of this. We did not find Steve”. The web search has limits too. “ The area where Mr Fossett went missing, is very hilly with deep valleys, Captain Conway concluded. There are canyons. If the plane crashed in one of them, it will not be visible from above”.
A French version of that story came out on September 27 in Tribune de Genève and 24heures in Switzerland.