Rogue pilot prompts restrictions over Fossett search area

A lone pilot who said he hoped to get a $10,000 reward for finding Steve Fossett has prompted the Federal Aviation Administration to establish flight restrictions over the flight area.

The man told Civil Air Patrol searchers he was seeking to collect the $10,000 reward offered by the Web site The site says the reward can only be collected by a Youchoose member who is searching Google Earth imagery. There is no word on whether the pilot was a Youchoose member or realized that he had to be sitting in front of a computer not in an airplane to collect.

The area under flight restriction is a rectangle 2,000 feet above ground level around Mina.

Civil Air Patrol aircraft are searching at 1,000 feet and helicopters from the National Guard and the Flying M Ranch are searching at 500 feet.

Douglas, Washoe, Mineral and Churchill County ground searchers have completed an examination of the Pine Nuts from Highway 208 north to Mt. Como.

Today 18 ground searchers from Mineral County looked in the area south of Walker Lake and northwest of the Wassuk Mountains, which separate the Lake from the valley containing the Flying M Ranch. The ranch, owned by hotelier Barron Hilton, is where Fossett was last seen flying south on Labor Day morning. To the south, 27 search and rescue personnel from Douglas, Washoe, Storey, Lyon and Mono counties are covering the area from the base of Mt. Grant to the Sweetwaters.

Nine Civil Air Patrol aircraft made 13 sorties out of Minden Airport, according to Maj. Cynthia Ryan of the Civil Air Patrol. The Nevada National Guard has four helicopters and a C-130 flying in search of Fossett. As fifth helicopter is on standby.

Much of the material searchers have been receiving from those searching for Fossett using satellite imagery is beginning to repeat.

It has been 13 days since Fossett disappeared, but searchers are still expressing hope they will find him alive.

"We are still in rescue mode," said Nevada National Guard Maj. Ed Locke. "If anyone can last 13 days it's Fossett."

A meeting has been set for Monday among search leaders to assess progress and determine the next step.

Civil Air Patrol fliers have logged 531 hours in the air as of Saturday with 213 sorties. Ryan said some of the aircraft have required 50 and 100-hour maintenance during the search.


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