High winds ground searchers

High winds grounded the Civil Air Patrol's search for Steve Fossett on Thursday.

Spokeswoman Maj. Cynthia Ryan said that the air search will be suspended for the volunteer organization for safety reasons. Winds of up to 50 mph were expected over the Sierra ridgetops.

She said the volunteers' search for the famed aviator should resume this morning

Meanwhile, the National Guard and private aircraft continued to look for Fossett who failed to return to the Flying M Ranch on Labor Day.

National Guard Maj. Ed Locke said the guard's C-130 flew over Sonora Pass looking for Fossett on Wednesday.

Alpine County sheriff's deputies contacted a witness who was camping on Labor Day and said she saw an airplane fly over the area south of Coleville and then heard a crash.

Search and rescue personnel from Alpine County were looking for any sign of Fossett's plane on Thursday. Locke said it would take four or five days to complete the search.

Douglas County Sheriff's Search & Rescue teams also followed up a tip that Fossett's plane was seen flying in the Sunrise Pass area.

The team was called out at 1:55 p.m. Wednesday after the tip received earlier was confirmed. Lyon County spokesman Jeff Page said Wednesday the initial tip that an airplane flew into an area canyon and didn't fly out was overheard in a bar.

Sgt. Tom Mezzetta said four search and rescue teams consisting of seven searchers and two coordinators examined the area around Sunrise Pass.

"The tertian is extremely difficult," he said. "They could not access some areas."

Mezzetta said the team did find a large pile of yellow metal someone dumped in the area before they returned to Minden at 9 p.m.

Douglas County searchers returned to the area in a six-wheeled Polaris all-terrain vehicle that was donated to the sheriff's office last year. They were expected to complete their search on Thursday.

"They'll try to get into the areas they couldn't last night," he said.

Fossett has been missing since Labor Day morning when he took off in a borrowed Citabria Super Decathlon from the Flying M Ranch south of Wellington. Dozens of tips a day are being followed. The Sunrise Pass area of the Pine Nut Mountains between Douglas and Lyon counties is a common spot for searches, said Page. Off-roaders and hikers are typically the target for those searches.

"We know it pretty well," Page said. "Douglas County goes in one side, we go in the other and we meet in the middle."

Lyon County Undersheriff Joe Sanford read a statement from Peggy Fossett saying that while Fossett owns a wristwatch with an emergency locator transmitter in it, he wasn't wearing it on Labor Day.

Trooper Chuck Allen said searchers are continuing to follow up on leads received by people looking for Fossett through the Internet.

The tip line is at (910) 396-0704 and enter 4719.


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