Most Aircraft Lost In Nevada Eventually Located
Despite the most
intensive search effort in US aviation history, millionaire
adventurer Steve Fossett and his Decathlon remain missing in
northern Nevada... and his friend Sir Richard Branson is afraid the
aviator might be lost "forever."
But analysis of previous aircraft search efforts showed that
Fossett is not likely to become the next Amelia Earhart, the
aviatrix who vanished over the Pacific Ocean in 1937 and was never
found. Research by the Reno Gazette-Journal revealed only three
other planes that have disappeared in the area since 1949 remain
Fossett vanished on what was to be a short flight out of the
Flying M Ranch near Yerington, NV on September 3, as reported by ANN.
Nevada's rugged terrain has been the site of many crashes and
scores of searches since the 1950s, but most aircraft were
eventually found accidentally by hunters, hikers, or ranchers, in
some cases years later.
Most remained missing less than one year, research by the Reno
"In a year or two, some hunter or hiker will stumble across
something in the ground and kick it, and it will be a piece of his
plane," said Maj. Cindy Ryan of the Nevada Wing of the Civil Air
Patrol. "That's very common. That's the way I figure this will
The search for Fossett by aircraft and ground teams covered
20,000 square miles of rugged terrain, and was the largest in the
history of the Civil Air Patrol.
CAP had 27 aircraft participating, in addition to 10 helicopters
and many private fixed-wing aircraft that flew out of Barron
Hilton's Flying M Ranch, the Nevada National Guard also had
The search generated 7,500 calls to CAP headquarters from media
and other interested parties, according to Ryan.
The Guard's aircraft cost came to just more than $1 million, she
said, with the state picking up 75 percent of the tab and the rest
paid out of federal training funds previously allocated to the
Google Earth, and high-tech imagery equipment and satellite
photos were used in the effort, which turned up no trace of
Fossett's plane, owned by Hilton.
"I'm disappointed we didn't find him," Ryan said. "It wasn't for
lack of resources or trying."
"There's been a lot of hype and misinformation that even the
search officials (were) passing on that Nevada and the West is a
Bermuda Triangle for missing aircraft," said John Lopez Jr. of
Washington, a retired Army major who has become an aviation
historian. "That's not the case."
A review of newspaper archives by the Gazette-Journal last month
showed 15 to 20 missing aircraft searches for which no resolution
could be immediately found. But further research by the newspaper
and Lopez narrowed that number to three planes that have vanished
without a trace.
One aircraft has been missing for 18 years, and two others for
more than 40 years.