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Fossett finally found -

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LISA MILLAR: The American billionaire Steve Fossett lived for adventure and it seems it was
adventure which led to his undoing.

A year ago the 63-year-old world record breaking balloonist took off on a solo flight just for
pleasure in an aeroplane from a ranch in Nevada.

Until this week his disappearance has been a mystery. Yesterday hikers stumbled on Mr Fossett's
identification cards and some money and now authorities in central California have found both the
wreckage of his plane and his remains buried in a mountainside.

Simon Santow reports.

SIMON SANTOW: In the Sierra Nevada Mountains and around Yosemite National Park the weather even in
early autumn can turn bitterly cold.

A forecast dump of snow this weekend had a 50-strong team frantically searching at high altitude
for Steve Fossett's remains.

Mark Rosenker from the US National Transportation Safety Board:

MARK ROSENKER: We had some photographs that were presented to us that we reviewed briefly this
morning that tells us some preliminary information. That information is indicative of a high impact
crash which appears to be consistent with a non-survivable accident.

SIMON SANTOW: Madera County Sheriff Coroner John Anderson says it appears Mr Fossett's plane flew
right into the side of a mountain.

JOHN ANDERSON: It was found at about 9,000 feet elevation in a place called the Ansel Adams
Wilderness area. This is very rugged country. It's closed to motor vehicles. It's closed to almost
everything. It's got hiking and hiking in, it's very mountainous, craggy. He's just about at the
tree line at that elevation.

SIMON SANTOW: The British entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson shared many of Steve Fossett's
adventures.

RICHARD BRANSON: Yes, it's definitely the plane. Sadly it had gone straight into the side of a
mountain. Whether Steve had had a heart attack or whether he'd had a bird strike or, you know, it
was a single engine plane, we don't know yet but obviously the aeronautical authorities will look
at that.

But I think you know the good thing about today is that we have closure. His wife now knows what's
happened and his friends and relatives know what's happened. We've already had a memorial service
where we celebrated his life and extraordinary people turned up to that service.

SIMON SANTOW: Australians know only too well at least one highlight of Steve Fossett's
extraordinary life.

Six years ago he achieved an elusive goal, becoming the first person to circumnavigate the world
solo in a balloon.

He chose to begin his journey in Western Australia and tricky winds meant he touched back down on
terra firma two weeks later in outback Queensland. There waiting for him was ABC Radio's Tanya
Nolan.

TANYA NOLAN: What was the most concerning moment for you?

STEVE FOSSETT: The worst was over the Indian Ocean when two jet streams were colliding and creating
very severe turbulence and I thought it would rip the balloon. There was a similar stroke from the
balloon to when my balloon ripped over the Coral Sea in 1998 and I fell into the sea. This time my
balloon was a little bit stronger but never the less I climbed out and climbed up to 35,000 feet
and flew there for the rest of the night to get out of that turbulence.

TANYA NOLAN: What sort of a relief was that?

STEVE FOSSETT: I was very relieved that I had an oxygen system that was suitable to fly at that
altitude. On previous flights my oxygen system would only be functional up to 30,000 feet but this
time I had a, it's called a (inaudible) demand system and so they go up much higher.

TANYA NOLAN: So how is it to achieve a 10-year dream?

STEVE FOSSETT: It's, I've worked very hard for this, not only myself but I worked very hard for
this and not only myself. I had to assemble a team to support me on this. It was an all
encompassing effort and took six attempts. Even so, even though we thought we were doing it right
each time, and so to finally succeed is especially sweet.

SIMON SANTOW: Before his disappearance there was no sign of Steve Fossett's thirst for adventure
ever being quenched. The billionaire businessman had plans to pool resources with NASA and fly
safely into the Mars atmosphere - the equivalent of flying above earth higher than any person has
ever flown before.

LISA MILLAR: Simon Santow reporting.