Fossett search, Reno air races may lead to crowded skies

Officials in the effort to find missing millionaire aviator Steve Fossett asked participants in this weekend's Reno Air Races to watch out for aircraft searching for the downed pilot within a 100-mile radius.

The annual air races " which attract thousands of observers and this year, 151 aircraft " are scheduled Thursday through Sunday at Reno Stead Field.

The search for Fossett entered its second week on Monday. The 63-year-old international adventurer disappeared on Labor Day after he failed to return to the Flying M Ranch near Wellington from a short flight.

Since his disappearance, searchers have concentrated on a 50-mile radius from the ranch owned by hotel magnate Barron Hilton, with an expanded area of 17,000 square miles of desolate western Nevada terrain.

"We're asking the flying public to give us a wide berth and don't come in and try to assist," said Civil Air Patrol Maj. Cynthia Ryan.

Ryan said searchers remained positive.

"It starts to take its toll on our people as well as others watching the search," Ryan said at a Monday afternoon news conference at the Minden-Tahoe Airport. "We keep hoping today is going to be the day."

Officials have discovered six old crash sites in the search for Fossett, the oldest dating to the mid-1960s. She said no human remains had been detected at any of the sites.

"We haven't been able to divert current resources to identify the crash sites," Ryan said.

She said all leads continued to be followed.

"We're not eliminating anything," she said.

Ryan also said searchers still believe Fossett could be alive.

"We're not close to calling it a recovery effort until we see wreckage on the ground. We've had searches go two or three times this long," Ryan said.

"We'll stop when we feel we've exhausted every square inch of the search area and we're not even close to that. I am very confident in his ability to survive," she said.

Ryan said volunteers had flown in from as far as Colorado to assist in the search in addition to private resources flying out of the Flying M Ranch.


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