weather icon Mostly Cloudy

Tip from Air Force spurs new search

CARSON CITY — Searchers relying on new data from Air Force experts plan to send planes and ground crews to a rugged area near Death Valley this weekend to look for famed aviator Steve Fossett, missing since Sept. 3.

The state Department of Public Safety official in charge of the search said the area stretches about 100 miles to the southeast from where Fossett took off, an airstrip on a ranch owned by hotel mogul Barron Hilton. Fossett had been staying at the million-acre ranch.

Gary Derks declined to be more specific about the search area to keep outsiders from interfering. But maps show that the area would include Nevada’s 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.”

Derks said a team of Air Force experts analyzing images picked up by radar and satellite spent Monday and Tuesday going over such data developed during the search for Fossett 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. “But it also shows he went down below the radar track.” That is below 2,000 feet.

The search 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.”

Civil Air Patrol planes will fly over the area on Saturday and Sunday, and National Guard aircraft might be used, Derks said. The ground crews will be organized by local sheriffs in a three-county area.

Besides the plan for the weekend search, a plane with sophisticated camera gear flew out of the Hilton ranch Tuesday to take aerial photos that can be analyzed later. That is part of a private search effort by Fossett’s family and friends.

The combined search efforts are much reduced from the initial hunt that at times put 30 or more planes and helicopters into the air scouring some 20,000 square miles, but Derks and Hilton spokesman Pat Barry said nobody is giving up.

“While the assets aren’t being devoted as they were in the last two weeks, the search continues, and the people behind the search won’t rest until they find him,” Barry said.

Derks said the daily state search, which has incurred costs of more than $600,000, was being suspended, but any time new information surfaces, planes and ground crews will go out again.

“We will continue to put people on the ground and in the air until such a time as we have located the aircraft,” Derks said.

“But we’re not going to send planes up just because it’s the thing to do,” he said. “We’re starting into nearly a month now” since Fossett’s disappearance.

Fossett, 63, has not been seen since he took off in a single-engine plane from Hilton’s ranch about 80 miles southeast of Reno.

The trip was supposed to have been a short ride in the lightweight, acrobatic plane to scout locations for an attempt to break the land speed record.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Iran doesn’t want war with US , says key Iranian lawmaker

Iran will “under no circumstances” enter a war either directly or indirectly with the United States, a prominent reformist Iranian lawmaker said Wednesday, as both Washington and Tehran try to ease heightened tensions in the region.

NY Democrats a signature away from getting Trump tax returns

ALBANY, N.Y. — New York lawmakers gave final passage to legislation Wednesday that would allow President Donald Trump’s state tax returns to be released to congressional committees that have, so far, been barred from getting the president’s federal filings.

Cohen search warrants aimed at Russia sanctions issue

Months before the FBI raided Michael Cohen’s office and hotel room, investigators were examining the flow of foreign money into his bank accounts.

‘American Taliban’ Lindh to be released after nearly 20 years

John Walker Lindh, the Californian who became known as the American Taliban after he was captured by U.S. forces in the invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, is set to go free after nearly two decades in prison.

Probe inconclusive on racist picture in Va. governor’s yearbook

An investigation ordered up by a Virginia medical school failed to determine whether Gov. Ralph Northam is in a 1984 yearbook photo of a man in blackface next to someone in a Ku Klux Klan hood and robe.

Serial cyberstalker’s plea deal fits lenient pattern

Only hours before women marched through many U.S. cities in January, Christopher Cleary set off a manhunt when he posted a Facebook message threatening to kill “as many girls as I see” in retaliation for years of romantic rejection.

N. Korea says Biden ‘fool of low IQ’ over Kim criticism

North Korea has labeled Joe Biden a “fool of low IQ” and an “imbecile bereft of elementary quality as a human being” after the U.S. presidential hopeful called North Korean leader Kim Jong Un a tyrant.

9 killed by car bomb near Somalia’s presidential palace

Islamic extremists exploded a suicide car bomb and killed at least nine people, including Somalia’s former foreign minister, near the presidential palace on Wednesday, police said.