NTSB Press Release

National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs


NTSB DETERMINES THE PROBABLE CAUSE OF THE 2007 PLANE CRASH INVOLVING STEVE FOSSETT WAS AN ENCOUNTER WITH DOWNDRAFTS

July 9, 2009

Washington, DC The National Transportation Safety Board has released its final report on the aviation accident that claimed the life of Steve Fossett.
 
The Board determined that the aircraft, a Bellanca 8KCAB-180 (N240R) struck mountainous terrain near Mammoth Lakes, California following an inadvertent encounter with downdrafts that exceeded the climb capability of the airplane. Contributing to the accident were the downdrafts, high density altitude, and mountainous terrain.

On September 3, 2007, Mr. Fossett, the only person aboard, departed Flying M Ranch, a private airport near Yerington, Nevada on a local, personal flight and failed to return.  A month-long search by the Civil Air Patrol, state and county authorities, and friends of the accident pilot failed to locate the aircraft. 

On October 7, 2008, a hiker found some of the pilot's personal effects.  "Once these items were found, the Safety Board launched a team to conduct the on-scene phase of the investigation," said NTSB Acting Chairman Mark V. Rosenker. An aerial search located the airplane wreckage about 0.5 miles from the pilot's personal effects, at an elevation of approximately 10,000 feet.
    
On the day of the accident, no emergency radio transmissions were received from the pilot, nor were any emergency locator transmitter signals received.  After the wreckage was discovered, a review of radar data from September 2007 revealed a track that ended about 1 mile northwest of the accident site. 

NTSB Media Contact:
Terry N. Williams
202-314-6100
williat@ntsb.gov

 

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The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency charged with determining the probable cause
of transportation accidents, promoting transportation safety, and assisting victims of transportation accidents and their families.