Page last updated at 23:27 GMT, Monday, 3 November 2008

Bones confirm Steve Fossett death

Steve Fossett, file pic from 2006
The adventurer was 63 when his plane disappeared in September 2007

DNA tests have confirmed two large bones found near the wreckage of a plane in California are those of US millionaire Steve Fossett, police say.

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

The bones were found last Wednesday 0.5 miles (0.8km) east of a crash site in isolated eastern California.

Fossett's shoes and driver's licence were also found. Both showed evidence of animal bite marks, police said.

"A California Department of Justice Forensics lab has determined that items containing DNA - discovered last week - match James Stephen Fossett's DNA," said police coroners in California.

Remains found

The plane wreckage was located in a remote stretch of the Sierra Nevada mountains last month after a hiker handed items belonging to the record-breaking adventurer to police.

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

Investigators flown to the crash site by helicopter said the single-engine Bellanca Super Decathlon seemed to have struck the mountainside head-on.

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

Madera County Sheriff John Anderson said Fossett would have died on impact, adding that it was not unusual for animals to drag away remains.

The adventurer's widow, Peggy, described the discovery of the bones last week 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.

He was declared legally dead earlier this year.

But the hiker's discovery of his belongings last month triggered an aerial search of the area and the wreckage was found about 0.25 miles (0.4km) away.


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