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What Caused Steve Fossett's Plane Crash?

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Sacramento, CABy all accounts, he was a very experienced pilot and adventurer, one who should not have perished in a plane crash. Yet it appears as though that is exactly what happened to Steve Fossett. While investigators examine the airplane crash wreckage, people who knew Fossett are left wondering what could possibly have happened that would have caused his airplane crash.

AirplaneHere's what we do know: Debris from the plane Fossett was in has now been taken to a warehouse in Sacramento for analysis. Recovery efforts have wrapped up and officials with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) say that the plane was in many pieces on the mountain. They believe the plane was traveling at a very high speed when it crashed into the side of the mountain, but are not yet sure what caused the plane to crash.

The NTSB is now looking into probable factors in the crash, including the possibility that weather played a role in the wreck, but it could take weeks or months to know exactly what happened.

Meanwhile, reports have surfaced that "very little" human remains were discovered at the crash site. Those remains were actually four bone fragments, which are being sent to a lab to determine if they are a match with Fossett.

According to NTSB Chairman Mark Rosenker, in statements given during a "wrap-up briefing," the wreckage is characteristic of a high-speed crash, including large, recognizable pieces of the plane and very, very small pieces. He went on to note that there is evidence that a fire occurred after the crash. A different official characterized the crash as "non-survivable."

Fossett went missing on September 3, 2007, after he left a nearby ranch for a solo flight. He was expected back in three hours and reported missing when he did not return. He had not notified anyone as to where he was flying, making the search for him incredibly difficult. Fossett was declared legally dead on February 15, 2008, at the request of his wife, Peggy.

Peggy Fossett has released a statement expressing her gratitude to the hiker who initially found Fossett's identification, starting the new search, and to the search crews. She also said she was "anxious to learn of the circumstances and cause of this tragic accident."

That is the question on everyone's mind surrounding the discovery of Fossett's wreckage: How could this have happened to such an experienced aviator? Fossett set 115 world records in aviation and sailing. He was the first person to fly alone around the world without stopping to refuel. In fact, he flew around the world in planes and balloons.

The truth is that plane crashes can happen to anybody who is in a plane. Big planes, little planes, experienced pilots, less experienced pilots, adventure seekers and vacationers can all fall victim to a plane crash. Unfortunately, much like with Steve Fossett, these crashes are often fatal and leave grieving family members in their wake.

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