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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 September 2007, 00:01 GMT 01:01 UK
Rescuers scour desert for Fossett
By David Willis
BBC News, Nevada

Members of the Nevada Air National and Civil Air Patrol are seen near a specially equipped aircraft to be used in the search for famed aviator Steve Fossett, at the airport in Minden, Nevada
The airport in Minden is serving as a base for the rescue effort
As dawn broke in the small town of Minden in the Nevada desert the search operation resumed.

Helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft took turns to taxi down the narrow runway. More than a dozen are playing their part in the hunt for Steve Fossett.

They are scouring some inhospitable terrain.

I took a flight in a small Cessna aircraft over the area from which Steve Fossett took off on Monday.

It is high desert dotted with mountain valleys and ravines. Spotting the millionaire adventurer and his single-engine blue and white plane would be a bit like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

High winds have also hampered the search effort making it difficult for planes to fly low enough for their pilots to peer into the gulleys.

No signal

Since Steve Fossett did not file a flight plan the search area is immense - more than 600 sq miles (1,554 sq km).

Maj Cynthia Ryan, of the Civil Air Patrol, said it could take a week to search the entire area.

She is confident Steve Fossett will be found, although when I put it to her that his silence seemed ominous she agreed.

Given Steve Fossett's experience - he has circumnavigated the globe no fewer than five times - the question is how could a freak joyride have gone so wrong?

Steve Fossett not only had plenty of fuel when he set out, he also had with him a radio and a cell phone, and the aircraft was fitted with an electronic beacon.

Maj Ryan said no signal had been received from the beacon, which suggested that it had either developed a fault with the battery, or been destroyed or submerged in water.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
The Nevada desert from the air



SEE ALSO
Search for Steve Fossett resumes
05 Sep 07 |  Americas
The difficult search for Fossett
05 Sep 07 |  Americas
Profile: Steve Fossett
03 Mar 05 |  Americas

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