A hiker in a rugged off-trail region near Mammoth Lakes, California, has found some items that may have belonged to missing adventurer Steve Fossett, authorities said on Wednesday. A weathered fleece pullover, about $1,000 in cash and an FAA pilot’s certificate bearing Fossett’s name were found Monday, close to Minaret Lake and Minaret Mine, according to reports by Fox News and the Associated Press. The hiker, Preston Morrow, found what appears to be two FAA certificates, tattered and crumpled on the ground, that listed the name Steve Fossett. Morrow said he didn’t recognize the name but showed the finds to a co-worker on Tuesday who told him about the missing aviator. Morrow then returned to the site on Tuesday with some friends who searched further, and they found the fleece pullover nearby. He then attempted unsuccessfully to reach Fossett’s relatives before reporting the find to authorities on Wednesday. Search teams led by the Madera County Sheriff’s Department were dispatched to the scene, and an air and ground effort was expected to be under way by Wednesday afternoon, sheriff’s spokeswoman Erica Stewart told the AP.
Fossett went missing September 3, 2007, while on a solo pleasure flight in a borrowed Decathlon. He launched from a friend’s ranch near Minden, Nevada, just east of Lake Tahoe. Mammoth Lakes is about 75 miles to the southeast of Minden and well within the Decathlon’s fuel range. Fossett’s disappearance touched off one of the largest search-and-rescue efforts in U.S. history, but no trace of him or the airplane was ever found, and Fossett was declared legally dead in February.