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Steve Fossett Missing

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the high-flier dept.

News 317

jd writes "Steve Fossett, the first person to fly a plane around the world without refueling, the first person to fly around the world in a balloon, and possibly the record-holder for the highest-altitude glider flight, is missing in Nevada. He is reported to have taken off in a light aircraft last night and has not been seen since. As he had filed no flight plan, would-be rescuers have no idea where to even begin looking. The plane took off from a private airstrip on a ranch at the south end of Smith Valley in western Nevada."

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I found him (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20468161)

He flew into my frosty mug collection!

Gov't got him? (4, Funny)

TibbonZero (571809) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468165)

Did he fly over Area 51 or somewhere he shouldn't have?

Re:Gov't got him? (5, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468607)

Oh, c'mon. All joking aside, there will be plenty of wild speculation. Let's apply Occam's Razor here and say that most likely, he probably crashed somewhere. He took off from a private airstrip unannounced. No one knew where he was going or even exactly when he left. He could be just about anywhere -- most likely on the ground in pieces.

Oh, spare me! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20468781)

Let's apply Occam's Razor here and say that most likely, he probably crashed somewhere.

That's what they WANT you to think

Re:Oh, spare me! (1)

weirdcrashingnoises (1151951) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468957)

>> That's what they WANT you to think

Actually, by applying Occam's Razor, it's most likely that grandparent isn't wearing his tinfoil/aluminum hat, which means thats what they are MAKING him think

He's gone home. (5, Funny)

QMO (836285) | more than 7 years ago | (#20469047)

It's obvious that he isn't human at all.

It's just that his vacation time ran out.

Re:Gov't got him? (0)

AlienQueen (1151955) | more than 7 years ago | (#20469171)

> All joking aside, there will be plenty of wild speculation. Let's apply Occam's Razor here and say that most likely, he probably crashed somewhere. Maybe you should try & apply your sense of humour first ! >8^)

Flight Plan? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20468171)

I don't need no stinkin flight plan.

I think I saw him... (5, Funny)

darkonc (47285) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468585)

I think he went to Burning Man [burningman.com]

Last I saw him, some chick in a crotchless monkey suit had gotten him totally pissed and convinced him to rip the antenna off of his aircraft to roast wieners over the coals of The Man.

The obvious (2, Funny)

Verteiron (224042) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468175)

Aliens. Probably the same ones that took Earhart.

Re:The obvious (5, Funny)

hax0r_this (1073148) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468283)

Aliens abudcted a racecar driver?

Re:The obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20468373)

Isnt it 50 years since she went? I bet its a publicity stunt.

Re:The obvious (1)

PalmKiller (174161) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468547)

No...its like 70 years and a couple of months since she went missing...

Re:The obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20468721)

Don't you mean The Ones Before, or the Shadow?

(Bob Mayer reference under the Greg Donegan pen name, for those who don't get it)

In other news (5, Funny)

hax0r_this (1073148) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468187)

The US Military denied claims that a UFO had been shot down last night over Area 51.

Comb the Desert! (5, Funny)

Red_Foreman (877991) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468189)

Find anything yet?

Nothing yet, sir.

Find anything yet?

Nothing yet, sir.

How about you?

We ain't found shit!

Re:Comb the Desert! (1)

kcbanner (929309) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468327)

Thats the first Spaceballs reference in a looong time. Thankyou good sir!

Re:Comb the Desert! (2, Funny)

lucabrasi999 (585141) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468901)

Sir, do you think we're being too literal?

Has anybody looked here? (1)

cashman73 (855518) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468201)

Has anybody tried looking here [google.com] ? Of course, if he was shot down for wandering into restricted airspace, he's (a) dead by now and (b) the government will say nothing about it ever happening.

Re:Has anybody looked here? (5, Funny)

garcia (6573) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468473)

Has anybody tried looking here?

Where? I get a 404: Place doesn't even exist error.

Re:Has anybody looked here? (2, Funny)

Reverend528 (585549) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468647)

if you zoom in enough [google.com] , you can see the wreckage.

He is such an attention whore (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20468209)

But I wish I had his money. Die, whore.

Re:He is such an attention whore (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20468243)

Then get off your ass and make a fortune and stop being a whiny little bitch. That might help.

Re:He is such an attention whore (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20468291)

way to lay the pimp hand down !!!!!
  +5 Keeping it Real

The winds were NOT very high this morning.... (4, Informative)

rickst29 (553930) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468263)

Although the upcoming cold front is expected to create high winds this afternoon, conditions this morning were quite good. I hope that he was able to ditch in a survivable place, and pray for his safety.

Re:The winds were NOT very high this morning.... (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468343)

Of anybody in the world, Fossett should have the best shot at survival.

I hope this is merely a chapter and not his swan song.

Re:The winds were NOT very high this morning.... (3, Insightful)

jd (1658) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468593)

On the other hand, we can assume that his aircraft had a very respectable two-way radio. Whatever the misfortune was, it must have been fast enough that he was not able to send any kind of message. Well, yes, that assumes that there was no significant obstruction and there was anyone listening - neither of which can be guaranteed in a remote area - but it seems most likely that disaster struck fast.

Light aircraft parachutes have been around for some time now, and emergency beacons are practically a throw-away item. At this point in the light aircraft/experimental aircraft game, fatal crashes involving the ground (as opposed to buildings, mountains, seagulls, etc) should be relatively rare and rescuers should never be stumped.

Yes, I most definitely hope Steve Fossett is safe, but whether he is safe or not, I think that given the current state of technology, it would be good if questions were being asked as to why we don't even know. Are the parachutes so overpriced or unavailable that even someone like Mr. Fossett could not afford one? Are the laws on transmitters so onerous that only idiots would fly with a distress beacon of adequate power?

(Yes, people should be entitled to take whatever risks they like with their own lives, provided they understand what those are, but implicit in the concept of entitlement is that it is practical and lawful to mitigate those risks as much as possible when doing exactly the same thing. Otherwise, it is not the risk that has the entitlement, it's the activity. The risk is mandatory.)

Re:The winds were NOT very high this morning.... (5, Informative)

cmowire (254489) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468821)

Actually, things are the other way around.

Sufficient requirements for design and inspection make even single-engined aircraft astonishingly reliable.

Most accidents are caused by operator error -- either fuel starvation, controlled-flight-into-terrain, or unsafe flying.

Also, ballistic parachutes are not available for all aircraft. There needs to be an appropriate structural member for them to be attached to and the correct parachute characteristics need to be set. Only with ultralights can you buy one off the rack.

Likewise, an emergency locater beacon generally needs to survive the accident and be triggered, either automatically or manually. These aren't built like airliner black-boxes.

Re:The winds were NOT very high this morning.... (1)

jd (1658) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468851)

Correction accepted. Now, if only Slashdot had wiki-like features, your reply plus a few of the other very good ones would make a damn good article.

"controlled-flight-into-terrain".. (4, Funny)

StressGuy (472374) | more than 7 years ago | (#20469241)

Also known as "Cumulus Granite"

Check Ireland (3, Interesting)

Maniakes (216039) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468267)

That's where Douglas "Wrong Way" Corrigan [wikipedia.org] ended up when he tried to fly from New York to California.

Re:Check Ireland (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20468305)

Or better yet, stop wasting money searching for the clown.

Re:Check Ireland (4, Interesting)

hansamurai (907719) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468633)

And that made for one of the greatest newspaper headlines ever!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Wrong_Way_Corri gan.jpg [wikipedia.org]

That guy was awesome. (4, Informative)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 7 years ago | (#20469071)

Screw Lindy...When denied a permit for a transatlantic flight because your hand-built airplane (cost 900 dollars) is deemed unflyable, make the flight anyway, and then claim you got "lost."

The guy made the flight with a couple of candy bars and a bottle of water, and a fuel leak inside the cockpit which he knew about before he left, but didn't fix because he didn't want to miss his flight window.

It's that fine line between bravery and stupidity; he lived, so he was brave.

party time... (1)

Connie_Lingus (317691) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468281)

well, it's obvious to me that he figured out where Jim Gray [com.com] was, and liked the view...

Re:party time... (3, Funny)

Perl-Pusher (555592) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468601)

Don't worry, him and 4400 others will reappear.

Paging Francisco D'Anconia (5, Funny)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468285)

Perhaps he's in a secret valley somewhere, protected by a holographic screen, with other adventurers and industrialists, plotting a takeover of the world?

Re:Paging Francisco D'Anconia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20468813)

Nice Ayn Rand reference... Should we start buying gold?

Re:Paging Francisco D'Anconia (1, Offtopic)

Bob McCown (8411) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468835)

HAH! +1, would read again!

No idea where to look? (4, Funny)

Bluesman (104513) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468293)

I'd start looking on the ground.

Re:No idea where to look? (1)

Anonymous Crowhead (577505) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468507)

The search team better pack some spatulas.

New record attempt? (5, Funny)

Skiron (735617) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468331)

Maybe he is trying to break the world record for the longest search party?

Re:New record attempt? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20468745)

Just wait till waldo finds out, he's very protective of his record.

Bad Weather here in Nevada (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20468333)

There have been some pretty intense wind/thunder/rain monsoons passing between South East California, South Western Nevada and Utah and North Arizona the past few days. If he hit one of those storm cells, he's a goner. On the other hand, there is a big chance he just parked his plane indoors and is sitting in a poker room on the Strip somewhere, lol.

"Apophis 2036 - Surf the Big One"

Possibly down in one piece. (5, Informative)

reality-bytes (119275) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468341)

He's out in a single engine piston aircraft so if the motor went quiet, the only option would be to land.

In theory and from what I know of Nevada's geography, finding somewhere reasonable to put the plane down shouldn't be a big issue.

However, once down, he may be right up the middle of nowhere. You'd assume he'd just get on the radio but if it's an old Bellanca, there may be no battery power available, in a new Bellanca the fault that stopped the engine may also prevent the radio from working. Nevada's geography with raised ranges may block a radio signal in places and it may even be the case that he went out 'non-radio' as some pilots still do.

I do rather hope he's okay but the moral here is never go x-country without 'booking-out' first even if that means just telling your friend where you're going.

Re:Possibly down in one piece. (2, Insightful)

jsight (8987) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468375)

There aren't exactly a lot of "new bellancas", but if it were one, I don't really understand how that would make a difference. They still use mags, so there's nothing that would kill the engine that would also kill the radio.

Unless you count post-crash fire. :(

Re:Possibly down in one piece. (1)

Nimey (114278) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468417)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but unless the Bellanca needs to be hand-propped to start it, it will have a battery and alternator aboard for the electric starter. If you've got that, you might as well have the alternator power radios and instruments.

I'd be surprised if any Bellanca's old or big enough to have a windmill generator aboard.

Re:Possibly down in one piece. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20468571)

No new bellancas? O rly noob? check it noob pancake http://www.aviabellancainc.com/ [aviabellancainc.com]

Re:Possibly down in one piece. (1)

Nimey (114278) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468387)

You'd think that he'd have an emergency transmitter aboard with its own battery.

Assuming that he checked the battery recently.

Re:Possibly down in one piece. (1)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468483)

You'd also think he'd file a flight plan...

Re:Possibly down in one piece. (1)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468665)

Why? What could possibly go wrong?

Re:Possibly down in one piece. (3, Informative)

dougmc (70836) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468761)

For VFR [wikipedia.org] flights, flight plans [wikipedia.org] are optional and very often not filed for (what are expected to be) routine flights.


I don't know anything about this particular case, but his plane is probably equipped with an ELT [wikipedia.org] which would probably be going off if he crashed. Unless he crashed really hard and broke the ELT too. (Crashing in water is another popular way of stopping them from working ...)

Hopefully it's all much ado about nothing and he's just landed somewhere (normally) and is enjoying the local scenery, unaware that he's lost ... though I guess that's unlikely at this point.

Re:Possibly down in one piece. (2, Insightful)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468843)

For VFR [wikipedia.org] flights, flight plans [wikipedia.org] are optional and very often not filed for (what are expected to be) routine flights.

I've taken enough flying classes to call BS on that. There is no such thing as a "routine flight". Hell, he could have at least phoned a friend, or one of the guys in the tower and given them a rough idea idea of where he'd be headed.

Re:Possibly down in one piece. (1)

dougmc (70836) | more than 7 years ago | (#20469059)

There is no such thing as a "routine flight".
Well, OK ... perhaps routine means something different to you, or perhaps your instructor drilled it into your head to expect trouble in every flight. Sounds like a good policy.


But you do have to be aware that 99+% of all flights end up being uneventful, and were expected to be that way (even if the pilot always plans for the worst.) I'll bet he filed flight plans for his world-record attempts, but like many other pilots, if he's just flying down to the next city to get some lunch, he might not. Sure, everybody should, but not everybody does.

Hell, he could have at least phoned a friend, or one of the guys in the tower and given them a rough idea idea of where he'd be headed.
You're not looking for an argument here, are you? Any time you go out, it's not a bad idea to tell somebody where you're going, be it in a plane, boat, car or on foot. At least that's what my wife tells me. But I draw the line at walking down the street to check the mail!

Geography? (5, Informative)

asphaltjesus (978804) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468645)

Nevada is not a giant dry lake bed.

As someone who has traversed just a tiny bit of the variety of off-highway terrain Nevada/Arizona/Utah/East California has to offer, I find it doubtful he could put it down safely. If he went due north, then it doesn't get any easier to land it.

Let's imagine for a minute he gets insanely lucky and lands without killing himself. He's exposed to some of the hottest, driest weather in the US. How much drinking water is in single-engine plane? How much water could he carry if he were crazy enough to consider walking out?

Re:Possibly down in one piece. (1)

punxking (721508) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468725)

I would hope that flying a small plane out of a private airport out in the desert with no prefiled flight plan, that he was at least in possession of some kind of emergency beacon [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Possibly down in one piece. (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468879)

I do rather hope he's okay but the moral here is never go x-country without 'booking-out' first even if that means just telling your friend where you're going.

And even if you tell a friend - carry an EPIRB/PLT/ELT [wikipedia.org] .

Draw me a sheep (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20468979)

In other news... several residents of Nevada have reported overhearing a small voice making numerous requests: "Please draw me a sheep"

Misleading summary (4, Informative)

rossdee (243626) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468377)

Fossett may have been the first to fly SOLO around the world, but Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager flew round the world non stop without refueling in 1986.

Re:Misleading summary (4, Insightful)

Surt (22457) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468527)

Thank you. I also encourage people to think hard about which is really the more interesting and challenging accomplishment.

Fortunately, Arizona is flat (3, Insightful)

maynard (3337) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468413)

Which gives him a good shot at safely landing the plane in an emergency. Unfortunately, if he lands in the middle of the desert, he might have a very hard time getting back to civilization before his water runs out. Also: it doesn't matter how good a pilot he is, if there was serious mechanical failure on that plane during flight he would have had to bring it down. There is no option.

His biggest mistake: not filing that flight plan. Huge *huge* fuckup.

Re:Fortunately, Arizona is flat (4, Insightful)

Nimey (114278) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468487)

His biggest mistake: not filing that flight plan. Huge *huge* fuckup.


Quoted for truth. Private pilots, for the love of your friends and relatives, PLEASE file a flight plan whenever and wherever you fly. It's fucking hard to find a crash site if you don't know where to look and have to guess based on the aircraft's range. It's also a major waste of rescue time and resources, and you have an excellent chance of dying from exposure or injuries before you're found.

IOW, just crash the damn airplane into a cornfield somewhere if you want to commit suicide. Leave a note first.

Re:Fortunately, Arizona is flat (1)

maynard (3337) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468659)

IOW, just crash the damn airplane into a cornfield somewhere if you want to commit suicide. Leave a note first.
nonononono... shotgun mouthwash. Why destroy a perfectly good airplane? :)

Re:Fortunately, Arizona is flat (1)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468737)

He flew out of a strip near Reno. Reno is fairly far from Arizona. It's more likely that he's in Nevada, California, or perhaps even Utah.

Re:Fortunately, Arizona is flat (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468751)

So is Oklahoma. Unfortunately, he's lost in Nevada.

Re:Fortunately, Arizona is flat (1)

jimwelch (309748) | more than 7 years ago | (#20469017)

>>So is Oklahoma.

Only the western half of Oklahoma is flat. the NE is hilly, the SE mountains.

When I travel from Bartlesville (NE) to Stillwater/OSU (central), the up/down,up/down in-between is a killer, and the dirt magically turns from brown to red (clay).

And NO, we do not wear six-shooters to work. (We carry, 9mm Glock, just kidding ATF!)

Re:Fortunately, Arizona is flat (1)

maynard (3337) | more than 7 years ago | (#20469149)

Yes. I made a mistake. Welcome to being human. Try it sometime.

Re:Fortunately, Arizona is flat (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20468847)

Seriously...."Arizona is flat"....possibly the most ignorant thing I have heard this week.

sounds like this was just a short flight (1)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468443)

Be terribly ironic to see him die on a milkrun after surviving all the records he's set doing some very dangerous flying. It's as bad as Steve Irwin getting killed by a critter known for docility.

Re:sounds like this was just a short flight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20468579)

No, Alanis, that wouldn't be "ironic." [hanau.net] It'd be unfortunate.

Re:sounds like this was just a short flight (5, Insightful)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468693)

No, Alanis, that wouldn't be "ironic." It'd be unfortunate.
You don't think it's ironic for an aviation pioneer and adventurer to die on a sedate, routine flight?

Irony
5. an outcome of events contrary to what was, or might have been, expected.
6. the incongruity of this.

Usage Note: The words ironic, irony, and ironically are sometimes used of events and circumstances that might better be described as simply "coincidental" or "improbable," in that they suggest no particular lessons about human vanity or folly. Thus 78 percent of the Usage Panel rejects the use of ironically in the sentence In 1969 Susie moved from Ithaca to California where she met her husband-to-be, who, ironically, also came from upstate New York. Some Panelists noted that this particular usage might be acceptable if Susie had in fact moved to California in order to find a husband, in which case the story could be taken as exemplifying the folly of supposing that we can know what fate has in store for us. By contrast, 73 percent accepted the sentence Ironically, even as the government was fulminating against American policy, American jeans and videocassettes were the hottest items in the stalls of the market, where the incongruity can be seen as an example of human inconsistency.
Served.

Re:sounds like this was just a short flight (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468807)

There's few things in the world more dangerous than a GA aircraft, it has most of the complexity of a commercial plane with little of the maintenance. Even the experimental craft he flew were maintained and checked out MUCH more thoroughly then most GA aircraft.

Ready the alien anal probe ! (1)

UberHoser (868520) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468503)

Well it has to be warmed up properly. Otherwise there is a risk of chaifing!

He's got time... (1)

maciarc (1094767) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468515)

As of 12:39 pm Nevada time, he still has 38:47:10 before he's overdue.

Actually he was the first Solo around the world. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20468561)

Voyager http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rutan_Voyager/ [wikipedia.org] Was the first plane to fly around the world without refueling. He flew Global Flyer http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_Flyer/ [wikipedia.org] around the world later.

Doesnt look good... (4, Interesting)

tgatliff (311583) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468583)

One of the other article says he took off flying a Citaborea, which means he was going up to do aerobatics because this is a quite slow airplane for anything else.... (NOTE: Citaborea means aerobatic spelled backwards). I do not remember him being an experienced aerobatic pilot, which is a considerably different skill than just being a pilot. Meaning, I feel I am a great pilot, but a not so good aerobatic pilot other than weather related recovery type turns. I would guess he probably got in a little over his head while doing aerobatics, and went down.

I hope this is not the case, but this type of thing is fairly common in the aerobatic world. Hence, the reason why they require the use of parachute(s)...

Re:Doesnt look good... (4, Informative)

Nimey (114278) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468719)

ITYM "Citabria" (airbatic backwards). You can use them for just buzzing around; they're about the same speed as a Piper Cub and people do make (short) trips in those.

Re:Doesnt look good... (1)

tgatliff (311583) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468943)

Thanks for correcting the error... I was way off... :-)

Also, I agree with you that he might have been just going up for a slow flight, as this aircraft would be very good at doing this. I have a couple hours in a Piper Cub, and I also very much enjoyed it just buzzing around... Seeing how slow the stall on this airplane, though, I could not see any reason for loosing it other than a structural failure. Meaning he could have even pancaked this little bird in trees if he had engine trouble...

Re:Doesnt look good... (1)

jd (1658) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468817)

An acrobatic plane, at night/early morning (when visibility is not good), without proper acrobatic experience - that's not a good combination. I really do hope that he had some other reason for that type of aircraft. If it can travel very slowly, then it might be good for aerial photography, which would be relatively risk-free and might indeed require an unpredictable - and therefore unfileable - flight plan. At this point, though, we can only really guess. If he's not found alive - or not found at all - we'll never know what his reasons were.

Re:Doesnt look good... (1)

Noexit (107629) | more than 7 years ago | (#20469003)

I just got in from lunch and had been watching this story on CNN. They reported and had a talking head stating that Fossett doesn't like doing aerobatics and most likely was not taking off in order to do them, despite being in a plane known for it's aerobatic capabilities.

Re:Doesnt look good... (5, Informative)

RockyMountain (12635) | more than 7 years ago | (#20469011)

Sorry to nitpick, but it's not a Citaborea, it's a Citabria. It's "airbatic" spelt backwards, not "aerobatic".

And I _very_ much doubt your claim that Steve Fossett is inexperienced in Aerobatics. On the contrary, 5 minutes browsing his biography will convince you that this man's aeronautical experience is immensely broad. It's inconceivable that someone with his tremendous breadth of flying experience and appetite for adventure never bothered to train in aerobatics.

Just consider the number of experimental/prototype/one-of-a-kind planes he has test flown and then set records in. You don't test-fly these things without a substantial background in aerobatics.

And I doubt that his intent for the Citabria flight involved aerobatics. Despite the name, those planes are barely capable of aerobatics at all. A Citabria is about the last choice someone of Steve's wealth and experience is likely to choose for aerobatics. Much more likely, he chose to fly a Citarbria because of the things it's _good_ for: Slow, low, relaxed, sightseeing flight, short-field takeoff and landing, etc.

(PS I'm speaking as an aerobatic pilot myself, and also a former Citabria owner).

That's "Citabria" (2, Informative)

StressGuy (472374) | more than 7 years ago | (#20469049)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citabria [wikipedia.org]

First I heard it was "aerobatic" backwards.

I only read the linked article, it didn't say which Bellanca. Super Viking would have been a decent choice, but I'll check again for the linked articles.

Ok, it's a Super Decathalon... (2, Informative)

StressGuy (472374) | more than 7 years ago | (#20469137)

This aircraft is "capable" of aerobatics - even inverted flight (it's main edge over the Decathalon), but it's really just an extremely rugged hi-wing tandem.

A great Bush plane actually, I wouldn't assume he was going up to do aerobatics based upon that.

Parent article is incorrect (1)

Jumper99 (51637) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468621)

Steve Fossett, the first person to fly a plane around the world without refueling

In 1986 Jeana Yeager and Dick Rutan flew in Voyager around the world without refueling. Fossett was the first to fly around the world without refueling solo

No flight plan? No beacon? (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468629)

no flight plan

Please explain to me why a pilot as experienced as Fossett does not file a flight plan - does not carry a beacon.

Re:No flight plan? No beacon? (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468709)

Please explain to me why a pilot as experienced as Fossett does not file a flight plan - does not carry a beacon.


Because experience can often generate a sort of arrogance. "I'm Steve Fossett, I can fly anything anywhere anytime, and thus possess superhuman aeronautic capabilities."

Re:No flight plan? No beacon? (2, Interesting)

lpangelrob (714473) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468795)

I am not an aviator, so I consulted Wikipedia and recalled the thing about flight plans.

They are required in IFR (i.e., bad weather). They are not required in VFR, but are a good idea, in case this sort of thing happens.

After taking 5 different small-craft flights in the last week (vacation), I noted that a flight plan was filed only once - in heavy traffic around Denali. Weather the rest of the time was good enough, and the flights short enough, to not require a flight plan. Plus there weren't any ATC towers in Homer, Chitina, or McCarthy.

Also, consider that Fossett may not have known where he was going even after the plane was in the air. He might just have wanted to spend some quality time in the air with his craft, flying wherever he wanted to go.

Re:No flight plan? No beacon? (2, Insightful)

delcielo (217760) | more than 7 years ago | (#20469057)

As mentioned by others, a flight plan is not required for VFR flight. There are reasons for this (and yes, they are debatable); but it is generally considered that even if they aren't required, they are wise. Statistically, you are found faster if you have one on file. The authorities are pretty good about tracking the overdue planes and initiating search and rescue. As somebody else mentioned, it is a good idea to at least check in with a family member before leaving and again when arriving. I call it, filing with Dad.

If you're not on a cross-country flight, a flight plan is not much use.

As for beacons, every airplane has an ELT (emergency locator transmitter) that sends a signal on 121.5Mhz. Satellites listen for that signal and are monitored by (I believe) the Air Force, which initiates search and rescue. The ELT is activated by an impact of 5 g's. Transient g-loads which build and dissipate very rapidly can inadvertently activate them at times. It's a dubious honor to have set one off with a hard landing. On the other hand, it's possible for the ELT to be damaged in an accident, or to lose the antenna for it in an accident, etc.

Mr. Fosset was a smart man, and obviously had filled fellow pilots/friends in on his intentions. They alerted search and rescue a few short hours after he intended to return. So, to say that his lack of a flight plan was a "huge fuckup" is perhaps a bit harsh. All the search and rescue efforts that would have been activated by the overdue flight plan are in fact, activated.

I wish him well. That's a hostile environment he is in.

It's called a "dumb mistake" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20469173)

Humans are prone to extremely dumb mistakes. In fact, I'm making one at this exact moment.

Re:No flight plan? No beacon? (1)

blitz487 (606553) | more than 7 years ago | (#20469257)

Please explain to me why a pilot as experienced as Fossett does not file a flight plan - does not carry a beacon.
Experienced pilots can easily get into trouble because they're so experienced they tend to overlook or dismiss the routine boring safety stuff. It's overconfidence.

Change Nevada State Motto (1)

aquatone282 (905179) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468699)

. . . from "The Silver State" to "Nevada: A Whole Lot of Nothing"

Personally, I enjoyed Nevada's wide open spaces - best star-gazing I've ever experienced.

But in this case, "A Whole Lot of Nothing" is going to make the searcher's jobs pretty difficult - lots of room to get lost out there (something else I enjoyed about my time in Nevada) - forever.

Re:Change Nevada State Motto (2, Interesting)

JamesRose (1062530) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468855)

Fly over with a heat sensitive camera?

I'm glad he's missing. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20468777)

I'm so sick of hearing all the ways this guy has of wasting money. The irony of him going missing during an *unannounced* exploit is palpable.

my guess: suicide (1)

coaxial (28297) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468789)

Accomplished pilot takes off from a remote airport without a flightplan and goes missing? Sounds like he killed himself.

No flight Plan? Doh! (1)

mombodog (920359) | more than 7 years ago | (#20468865)

No so smart after all. This is a big No No for any pilot. I think he is moving yellow cake for the NSA.

They are looking in the wrong direction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20468955)

Suppose he was going for a new high-altitude record, and forgot to pack a small rocket for a de-orbit burn?

I'm.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20469153)

I'm searching Google Earth for him right now. So far no luck but I will keep you all posted....

To "Gilligan's Island" Music - Original (1)

kevman42 (681617) | more than 7 years ago | (#20469201)

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale,
A tale of a guy who's rich
Who flew off in a small airplane
Expecting not a hitch

The mate was a mighty flying man,
His exploits were all right.
Steve Fossett he let out that day
For a three hour flight, a three hour flight.

The weather started getting rough,
His flying ship was tossed,
He didn't pack his chute that day
His lunch it would be tossed, his lunch it would be tossed

The plane set down on the hot flat ground of this uncharted desert isle
With Fossett
Is he vulture stew,
A millionaire for his life,
All that money
Will not save him
Here on Fossett's Isle.
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