Page last updated at 04:37 GMT, Friday, 31 October 2008

Bones found near Fossett's plane

Wreckage of the Fossett plane. Madera County Sheriff's Department handout
The 'human bones' were found within a mile of the crash site

US investigators say they have found what appear to be two large human bones near the crash site of Steve Fossett's plane in eastern California.

His trainers and driver's licence were also found, and both showed evidence of animal bite marks, police said.

The millionaire adventurer was 63 when he disappeared in September 2007 while on a solo flight from a Nevada ranch.

His plane was located earlier this month after a hiker handed items belonging to Mr Fossett to police.

DNA test results on the bones - which were found on Wednesday 0.5 miles (0.8km) east of the crash site - are expected within a week.

Similar tests on bones discovered near the site earlier this month found them to be not human.

Remains found

Madera County Sheriff John Anderson said the bite marks on the items found reinforced a police theory that animals had dragged Mr Fossett's body from the crash site.

Steve Fossett climbs out of his cockpit after his record-breaking flight around the world in 2005
1998/2002: Long-distance for solo ballooning
2001/2002: Duration for solo ballooning
2002: First solo round-the-world balloon flight
First balloon crossings of Asia, Africa, Europe, South America, South Atlantic, South Pacific, Indian Oceans
Seven fastest speed sailing titles
13 World Sailing Speed Record Council titles
2001: Fastest transatlantic sailing
2004: Fastest round-the-world sailing
Round-the-world titles for medium airplanes
US transcontinental titles for non-military aircraft

"We talked to [Mr Fossett's] family and advised them that we possibly, most likely, found the remains of Stephen Fossett," CNN reported the sheriff as saying.

The adventurer's widow, Peggy, described the discovery of the bones as "another step in the process of completing the investigation into the tragic accident that took Steve's life".

Steve Fossett became the first person to circle the globe solo in a balloon in 2002 and had about 100 other world records to his name.

For more than a year after he took off from the Nevada ranch there was no trace of him, despite an intensive search.

But earlier this month a hiker found identification documents belonging to the adventurer in a remote stretch of the Sierra Nevada mountains.

That find triggered an aerial search of the area and the wreckage was found about 0.25 miles (0.4km) away.

A ground team flown into the area by helicopter confirmed the identity of the plane.

Officials said the single-engine Bellanca Super Decathlon seemed to have struck the mountainside head-on, which would most likely have resulted in the pilot's instant death.

Most of the fuselage had disintegrated, with engine parts scattered over a debris field stretching about 150ft (46m) by 400ft (122m).


Remains found in Fossett's plane
03 Oct 08 |  Americas
Wreck confirmed as Fossett plane
02 Oct 08 |  Americas
Found items may be Fossett clue
01 Oct 08 |  Americas
Elite team renews Fossett search
14 Jul 08 |  Americas
Adventurer Fossett declared dead
16 Feb 08 |  Americas
The difficult search for Fossett
05 Sep 07 |  Americas

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