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California Guard Assists in Fossett Recovery

By Army Staff Sgt. Jon Soucy
Special to American Forces Press Service

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Oct. 6, 2008 – When the wreckage of multi-millionaire Steve Fossett’s plane was found near Mammoth Lakes, Calif., last week, it ended the year-long search for the missing adventurer.

Fossett vanished in September 2007 during what was supposed to be a short pleasure flight.

There are still many unanswered questions, and the California Army National Guard began helping to find answers on Oct. 2.

Using a single UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, California Army National Guard pilots completed several missions in support of the Madera County sheriff’s office, flying in supplies, search dogs and personnel, said Jonathan Guibord, a California Guard spokesman.

The California Guard normally would not take part in a mission like this, he said, but state officials asked for help with the recovery operations.

“Due to the dangerous terrain and high altitude, [the Office of Emergency Services] has determined that the California National Guard’s specialized aircrew and aircraft were required,” Guibord said.

The pilots supported insertion and extraction missions into the area on Oct. 2, but snowfall ended the search in the Sierra Nevada on Oct. 3.

California officials told the Associated Press that recovery efforts around the site may not resume until summer. Authorities said they completed most of what they needed to do on Oct. 3, when they found three more bone fragments that scientists will test to determine whether they came from Fossett.

(Army Staff Sgt. Jon Soucy serves at the National Guard Bureau.)

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