Skip to comments.New Leads in Search for Fossett
Posted on 09/25/2007 8:06:47 PM PDT by RDTF
CARSON CITY, Nev. - Relying on new leads from Air Force experts, crews looking for famed aviator Steve Fossett plan to comb a rugged area near Death Valley by air and foot, authorities said Tuesday. Gary Derks, the state Department of Public Safety official in charge of the search, said the Air Force analyzed images picked up by radar and satellite and "picked up what could be Mr. Fossett, his track." "It gives us an idea, if it's him, what direction he was going," Derks said of the wealthy adventurer, missing for more than three weeks.
Derks said the area stretches about 100 miles to the southeast from where Fossett took off Sept. 3, an airstrip on a million-acre ranch owned by hotel mogul Barron Hilton. Maps show the area would include Nevada's remote Silver Peak Range, close to Death Valley National Park in California.
"There's nothing definite, nothing concrete," Derks said. "These are just some hits that we want to track."
Search planes will fly over the area Saturday and Sunday, Derks said.
The area is "very rough terrain," Derks said. "If he's there, he's going to be hard to see. That's why we're sending in the ground search-and-rescue crews, too."
(Excerpt) Read more at wjla.com ...
I don’t understand....are they picking him up walking or where is plane could have gone down?
It could be radar tracks, saved in some database.
Geee...I’ll be very surprised if he’s still alive.
if he is still alive it would be his greatest feat ever.
It would be astounding if he's still alive and walking out on his own. This would be his greatest achievement yet imo.
Death Valley is not a giving place for someone on foot. However, I’ve read if anyone could survive he could. Yes, I agree...it would be his is greatest.
So, perhaps he and Mr. Hoffa have met up and pooled resources?
along with Judge Crater, I presume.
Modern radar works differently. It still sends out a high frequency radio wave and listens to see if any of the energy is reflected back, but there’s a new twist. A device known as a transponder is part of the equipment in the aircraft or other object that the radar is looking for and looking at. The transponder is a receiver and a radio transmitter, all in one package. It listens for the radar signal sent out from the transmitter. When it receives the signal it responds by sending back a signal of its own, much more powerful than the signal the radar on the ground would have gotten from just the reflected energy.
The transponder does several other things too. It can be coded by the pilot to return a 4-digit code, like 1-2-0-0 or 0-1-4-6 that the radar will receive and display on the operator’s screen. That way the operator is not looking at just a bunch of dots all over his screen without knowing which dot is which target. Every dot that represents a target that’s using a transponder is uniquely identified by the 4-digit code. Some codes are always the same, 1-2-0-0 is the code transmitted by aircraft that are lying VFR, using visual flight rules, where they are not necessarily under the control of ATC. Other times the controller tells the pilot what code to use. There are codes for when you have an emergency, when you are being hijacked and when you have lost your radio and can’t talk to them. There are others, but these are the primary ones.
The transponder can also send back information about the flight, such as the altitude the aircraft is at and the speed they are flying.
OK, the problem is that because the transponders make such a bright target on the scope that the operator has to turn its brightness way down to keep them from being just big blobs. When they turn the sensitivity of the scope down they lose the relatively weak targets that are not transponders but rather just the energy being reflected by the object the radar has seen. These returns are considered secondary and provide little information other than the fact there’s an object out there and how far away it is. If the secondary returns from a target are recorded over a period of time you can also tell which way it’s going.
In a case like this they will take the tapes of the area where they think Fossett might have gone and analyze them by looking specifically for secondary, very weak, returns. If they are lucky they will be able to find his radar track. The problem is that he might well not be the only aircraft out there, especially in wide open spaces like that.
I can’t believe he wouldn’t have had a transponder in the aircraft he was flying since a responder is required for entering much of controlled airspace these days. Most pilots turn it on and set it to broadcast, it called ‘squawking’, the 1-2-0-0 code so that even though he’s not under control the ATC guys will see him and be able to warn other pilots that he’s there. It also helps them find you when you don’t get where you are supposed to be going.
Controller airspace is not all the same, there are varying levels of complexity. Really busy areas, like Miami or Chicago, can’t be entered without the availability of a transponder that does all sort of things.
Hope I explained it so that it makes some sense!
Makes perfect sense. Thanks.
They have a few raw radar hits they think might have been his plane. That’s all.
I find it bizarre the article is from DC and not Carson City, NV. I reside in Carson City, NV and just checked our local newspaper online, and there is NO breaking news on this subject matter. Plus, I just listened to the 9pm news on the radio, and there was zero mentioned. I speculate where DC got their news? Is this the never-ending existence characteristic of the news media?
Ahh; too bad. I’ve never liked bad endings....
Based on this quote I suspect they are using side-scan radar images from satellites. Using natural reflectors on the ground and making various calculations they can detect changes in the elevation of the ground of a few millimeters. By comparing images before and after Fossett's flight they could detect the change in elevation created by the plane wreckage. Metal from the plane would be a good reflector that would be picked up in the radar image.
These are not classified techniques - they are available for civilian purposes like geologic studies. However, I suspect the Air Force has some very precise radar satellites for military purposes that were used to detect traces of plane wreckage.
Yes, I have my doubts that he’s alive. I am surprised his emergency responder didn’t go off. That made me think he had a horrible crash and the responder was destroyed and he was killed then.
Yeah:( Unless I am mistaken, I thought I heard on the radio last week, that he didn’t even file a flight plan. I think that is totally illegal too. If this is correct, he knew better than to fly like that, imo. Doesn’t justify him crashing or anything, but, it just seems odd to me that someone like him would take off without filing. Who knows? He could end up being a 21st century Amelia Earhart or something...All I know is, if he is still alive, God help him,,,walking through the desert is tough enough for a healthy man, let alone any injuries he may have sustained from crashing.
Silver Peak Range, NV and Death Valley are close to where I live. It would be a miricle if he could survive for three weeks as there is virtually no water out there.
1. Piss him off if he makes it back alive and did not hear about it, or
2. Motivate him to get found sooner if he has a radio and hears about it.
Listen, we can look all we want, but he is a self made man and if he is still alive, a little motivation like making him poor just may help!
Unless you’re flying IFR, there is no requirement to file a flight plan. It is recommended, but not required.
Most pilots in small planes, flying in clear weather, taking off and intending to land at the same airport won’t file flight plans.
My prayers go out for him, and for his family and friends who await word on his situation.
He does so much that really requires him to be at the tip top of his game I wonder if he didn’t head off on what would be for him a very routine cross country flight and in so doing let something really simple trip him up. Spending a couple of hours in his single engine aircraft would be very mild compared to many of his experiences.
Are the talking last Saturday and Sunday, I hope! I would hate to think they are putting off this aspect of the search until next weekend.
Their frequency is monitored by satellite. The satellite is programmed to ignore the first signal it receives and not report it until its next pass over the area. This helps rule out false alarms since people trigger them by mistake and turn them off quickly so that it’s no longer transmitting on the next pass.
I have very little doubt that he is dead. There’s no way he carried enough water to live this long, and it’s hugely unlikely that he found any. I’d love to be proven wrong, to see Fossett walk into a Reno casino and ask for a beer, a Keno ticket and about two gallons of Gatorade, but I don’t see it as likely.
Radio Detection and Ranging
"CARSON CITY, Nev. - Relying on new leads from Air Force experts,"
We’ve come a long way!
In WWII a 24 crashed in remote Alaksa. Two of the ferry crew were able to bail out. One of the crew members survived 86 days untill noted by another ferry flight and was rescued.
He stated out with a parachute and a Boy Scout knife......and was lucky to find trapper cabins.
“Two crew members bailed out before the crash. One of them, co-pilot 2nd Lt. Leon Crane of Philadelphia, survived for 86 days in the wilderness after he stumbled upon trappers cabins where he found food and refuge from the elements. Crew chief Master Sgt. Richard Pompeo, the second man who made it out of the bomber, was never found.”
an Army site.
At first I just thought this was a guy with more money than skill...a thrill seeker who fate caught up with, ala John Denver years ago.
But the fact they haven’t found Fossett, the plane or wreckage....something just doesn’t seem quite ‘right’ about this whole affair.
I agree that it’s odd that NV didn’t report this right away.
That’s an awful lot of area to have to search. I remember being involved in search for a small plane that disappeared in a thunderstorm near Greenville, AL, or maybe was Evergeen, way back in the early 60’s. They gave up after a week and it wasn’t found until a couple of years ago when some hunters wandered across the wreckage and the remains of those aboard. The woods up there are such that if the plane goes in anything like vertical the trees just swallow it up and it’s very difficult to see it from the air.
My prayers go out for him, but I fear with the passing of time he’s out of luck.
Just kidding... I know it was probably his f'n key that was all worn out and doesn't work anymore.
HF, CFII, SEL, MEL
I am not all prejudiced against VFR-squawking sources of secondary returns. Although I thought if you were squawking anything, have and using a transponder, that you would not be a secondary return.
Thanks for doing the dirty work of editing that I failed to do!
Insurance scam, perhaps?
The original report when he went down said he was wearing an ELT on his watch (Breitling has such a watch).
The fact that it hasn’t been activated tells me he didn’t survive the crash/forced landing. :-(
I heard the theory was he wanted to go out like Amelia Earhart
re: I heard the theory was he wanted to go out like Amelia Earhart
I imagine it’s pretty tough to find Japanese soldiers these days to capture you, hold you prisoner, kill you and bury you in an unmarked grave on some desolate island somewhere halfway around the world.
I wasn’t aware of that watch. Yes, I believe you MUST be RIGHT. Wonder when they’ll find the crash site with his remains?
That’s right. I’d forgotten about that dif between VFR and IFR. I’m a civvy as far as aviation is concerned, lol. When I was 17, I took and passed a year long Aviation Education course in High School, one of the few classes that actually held my overall interest. At the end of the year, we all went up one at a time in a small plane with a pilot, taking off from a small, local “windsock” airfield, the scariest part was when the Pilot let me land on my own. I hope I never have to anything like that again, because, looking back now at the age of 43, I still shiver, lol.
Freepmail me and I will see what I can arrange. :^P