Steve Fossett ID, cash, jacket found near Mammoth Lakes, California. Hoax or real?

Hikers and searchers from the Mammoth Lakes Calfornia are reporting they have found an FAA ID for Steve Fossett along with a jacket and some crumpled money.     I’m confused as to why this is only coming out now after two days since the Fossett story was international news for many weeks as thousands participated in a huge search for the missing aviator.     He was lost after flying from Nevada on September 3, 2007.

Fossett was declared dead February 15, 2008.   If this find is not a hoax it implies Fossett may have been alive after the crash.   However it seems very odd that a survival expert of Fossett’s caliber could have survived the crash and wandered around leaving only a few items rather than marking a large area with rocks and markings to signal the aircraft he knew would come looking for him.

The Fossett mystery continues.

More from Mammoth Lakes News

Danger DataFossett Flight ?


37 thoughts on “Steve Fossett ID, cash, jacket found near Mammoth Lakes, California. Hoax or real?

  1. I think Richard Branson will find Fossett on the maiden space flight of SpaceShipOne – this has all been a publicity stunt.

    Seriously though it is a sad story if Fossett crashed and has died and not found.

    Strange story all the same.

  2. The place where they found the belongings is right on his intended flight path, or close enough to it to be quite probable. My guess is they discover the wreckage shortly. A man with his love of adventure could never stay out of the limelight if alive.

  3. Adding to this odd story is the fact that the hiker found $1000 cash and the ID and did NOT report this until the next day after going back – he said to get the GPS coordinates?

    If I found a flyer’s ID and a bunch of cash I think I’d call it in immediately to authorities?

  4. They spent a day deciding whether they should sell the stuff on eBay…considering how everyone wants to cash in on the greed in this country!

  5. Just speculating, but my guess is they wanted to contact the Fossett family first before going public with this, and that may have taken a while. You can’t just pick up the phone and call famous/wealthy people like that, even when you are in law enforcement, they have extremely tight rings of protection around them to protect them from quacks, and I bet Fossetts widow gets calls daily from people who profess to have a “hot tip” on his whereabouts. So 1st – they had to actually get through to them and 2nd – they had to verify the veracity of what they had found. I don’t smell a conspiracy, I smell a tragedy.

  6. Its bizzare. Evidently the ID and money were some distance from the sweatshirt, which had animal and human hair on it. Also I read that Fossett only had a t-shirt and shorts when he took off. Doesn’t make sense that he crashed, survived then couldn’t find/signal help.

  7. I don’t think he survived. It is a very rugged area with plenty of trees. Fossett encounters engine trouble. Things are desperate, he doesn’t have time to radio his predicament. He is trying to find anywhere to put the plane down, but there really aren’t a lot of options if you check the terrain. He hits something that causes the plane to break up – a tree, a cliff face, a rock spire – and the contents are scattered and he is killed or terminally injured. The jacket likely contained both the cash and the cards in the pockets, animals scattered it over the many months since, hiker finds it. All seems quite probable to me. My guess is they will find more wreckage, perhaps his body, in the weeks to come…unless it landed in Minaret Lake.

  8. Chip the odds of landing squarely in a lake seem pretty small even if he was trying to do it to cushion a crash landing – that area is mostly as dry as a bone, Mammoth lake itself is very shallow.

  9. Looks like they don’t have much time, which is too bad:
    “The search crews are going to hit the wooded slopes above Ridge Lake, and elevation in the area reaches 10,000 feet. They will have to work fast, Brown noted, because a three-day snow storm is expected to sweep in Thursday and drop up to a foot of snow.”

  10. Hopefully they can put a clear ending to this story and stop all the rampant ugly speculation floating around the web.

    Family can finally put it all to bed.

  11. Latest news update confirms my earlier theory – the hikers who found the items tried (via their attorney) to contact Fossett’s attorney and had difficulty getting him to return their calls…so it took some time to verify the authenticity of what they had found.

  12. When Mr.Fossett took off last year, he was said to have been looking for a dry lake – suitable for making a world land speed record. I can’t imagine why he would’ve ascended so far up into the Sierras looking for a dry lake. Obviously most dry lakes are at lower elevations……

  13. Interesting Paul – but I meant why wouldn’t they have thought he might still be up there and contact local search immediately – the wife was a Firefighter so she could have got a search going right away. No big deal here but the time frame seemed odd to me – perhaps they were hoping for reward money?

  14. Corrections and comments:
    He was NOT looking for dry lake beds, it was simply a pleasure flight: tooling around the area with no particular destination or tasks to be performed.

    The identification material was initially brought out as debris. Later examination and realization of the middle name significance caused an attempt to contact the family’s law firm in Chicago rather than have the family learn of the events via the news.

    The cash and id-cards are probably from a leather wallet that was aromatically attractive to an animal; it does not necessarily indicate post-crash travel by Steve Fossett.

    Excessive reliance appears to have been placed on Ranchhand Brawley’s observations during a cell phone call to his girlfriend. Insufficient weight appears to have been given to the CHP’s officers observations and the California Camper’s observations who waited until the conclusion of her camping trip.

    No search in the area would be advisable if it had to be organized immediately. Mono County assets are closer even though the controlling agency is Madera County but SAR expeditions in the area are hazardous undertakings even without approaching storms and approaching nightfall being considered.

    Ofcourse those that were convinced he faked his death only to have his famous face emerge somewhere as that of a pauper are still unconvinced.

  15. NTSB is confirming they think the wreckage of Steve Fossett has been found.

    They are currently looking for his remains and then will investigate the wreckage to determine how it happened.

    Looks like the plane went head-in to a rock face, traveled upward on the rock face and disintegrated. Engine was found 300 feet from fuselage.

    At least the family can put this to rest. RIP Steve Fossett.

  16. Listening to the Sheriff at the end of the briefing when he moved off camera he told another reporter that they are positive that plane was Steve Fossett’s and that his remains are most likely in the area.

  17. They found the tail number of the plane, it is definitely him. So much for conspiracies of faked death, he just wasn’t they type. He had way more to live for than to hide from.

  18. But of course, no body yet. Hard to believe he flew directly into a mountain, even if he had some mechanical problem, unless he was unconscious. What accounts for the money and the ID’s being found together so far from the crash site? If animals or weather disbersed stuff why would the money and ID’s be together? If animals pulled his body out of the wreckage or it was ejected they should find some kind of remains in the vacinity.

  19. They had an interview with law enforcement where they indicated it is quite common that, if they don’t find the body within days or weeks after the incident, they never find anything at all. Cougars, Bears…all kinds of predatory/scavenger animals up there that scatter the remains. It would not surprise me if they never find anything, the remains have been there for a year deep in a wilderness.

    Flying into a mountain is not at all uncommon in aviation circles and there are numerous reasons it can happen. Those are 10,000+ peaks in there, he may have been trying to climb and didn’t make it; he could have had engine trouble; he could have had a medical emergency like a stroke or heart attack. Maybe he was suicidal for some unknown reason and did it on purpose, though that seems unlikely. The fact is there is much about this where it is just speculation and we’ll never know for sure.

    As to the I.D.s, if the plane imploded, as it appears it did, the contents would have been scattered on the winds. The money and I.D. was likely in a pocket and got scattered after the fact.

    Sometimes a tragedy is just a tragedy and coincidence (money and i.d.’s) is just coincidence.

  20. Paul I think you’ve been right about this all along. I fell victim to the appeal of a “conspiracy theory” when he was not found but anything more than a tragic death now appears unlikely even if the body is not found.

  21. The most dangerous cloud formation there is: Cumulo-granite.

    Trouble is he was a very good pilot. Wallets are an olefactory attraction to predators, so thats what likely scattered the identification.

    All those algorithms developed to detect blue in the high altitude images wouldn’t have been much use; most of them just found snow patches or handicapped parking spaces.

    I wonder how that ranch hand Brawley feels and how he will feel if the exact time of the California impact makes his recollections totally impossible rather than just very unlikely.

  22. NTSB reports human remains sufficient for DNA testing found, just in case anyone in England is hypothesizing he parachuted out before impact.

  23. Wow…when I was a kid I had a neighbor who crashed his plane and he survived after a few days in the woods with body temp in the 80’s…he was really really messed up but his co-pilot didn’t survive and was just demolished from the force of the impact.

    His story even ended up in Readers Digest some years later but I can remember waiting to hear what happened and feeling really down when his 240Z was returned from the airport to his house.

    Hopefully the family can close this chapter and move on.

  24. Fairly benign winds and clouds that day.
    Perhaps a bird strike.
    Might also account for debris being distant from the site: not animal distribution as much as wind blown at altitude when canopy suffered loss of integrity due to a bird strike?

  25. No, they said he slammed straight into a rock face…killed on impact….and there were some pretty good thunderheads according to several accounts I saw…not where he took off, but where he crashed.

  26. Impact forces were certainly too great for survival, though impact was not at such a steep angle as early descriptions implied. Troublesome winds and cloud formations were after he would have already been missing.

  27. Preliminary speculation: Carbon Monoxide intoxication from cracked muffler exhaust being vented into the cabin by the cabin heater. Would account for inverted attitude, sudden loss of piloting skills by an excellent pilot with massive numbers of hours and considerable currency, reports of noisy operation and initial indications of low power settings on throttle and cruise pitch setting on pitch control in a situation clearly calling for all the climbing power he could muster.

  28. Large human bones found a half mile from crash site.
    Although there is considerable doubt now as to whether the plane was inverted at impact, it is clear that there was no survival of impact forces. Bones were dispersed by animals. Recently discovered bones are large enough to provide copious quantities of dna unlike the four earlier discovered bone fragments which were forensically inconclusive.
    Considerable speculation as to the route a very experienced pilot would have taken to approach the crash site.

  29. I had several brief phone conversations with him. He used to call the balloon factory to speak with one of the owners, and I would say, “They ain’t here.”

    The thing I remember the best, he and his partners sold one of our owners an ultralight. It came in crates. Our owner immediately put it together and, without instruction, tried to take off. He crashed into the trees at the end of the runway. I told Fossett what happened and he let a out string of adjectives.

    Nice guy. He died doing what he truly loved to do.

  30. The bones found near the Fossett crash site confirmed they are Steve Fossett’s remains.

    Mr. Fossett’s widow, Peggy Fossett, released a statement thanking authorities for their work. “I am hopeful that the DNA identification puts a definitive end to all of the speculation surrounding Steve’s death. This has been an incredibly difficult time for me, and I am thankful to everyone who helped bring closure to this tragedy,” she said.

  31. A camper who believes he saw Steve Fossett’s plane moments before he slammed into a Sierra mountainside says headwinds were so strong that day that the plane appeared to be “standing still,” according to a federal report released Thursday on the 2007 crash.

    The report by the National Transportation Safety Board says the unidentified camper and his companions watched the plane struggle at an altitude of about 11,500 feet as strong winds blew out of the southwest.

    “It looked like it was standing still due to the wind,” the report said.

    The fact-finding report does not include a cause of the crash, but outlines facts discovered during the investigation, including reports of strong winds and previous problems with the plane.

    It also says that radar tracked a plane as it flew south along the mountain range at 9:07 a.m. It ends abruptly at 9:27 a.m. near the crash site.

    Among the discoveries amid the shattered wreckage was the emergency release handle for the 63-year-old pilot’s door, with the locking pin still in place, the NTSB said.,2933,505786,00.html

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