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NTSB: Witness saw Fossett plane fight strong winds

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avatar NTSB: Witness saw Fossett plane fight strong winds
March 05, 2009 08:39PM
FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — A man who believes he saw Steve Fossett's plane moments before it slammed into a mountain said headwinds were so strong that day that the plane appeared to be "standing still," according to a federal report released Thursday.

The report by the National Transportation Safety Board said the unidentified camper and his companions watched the plane struggle at an altitude of about 11,500 feet as strong winds blew out of the southwest.


avatar Re: NTSB: Witness saw Fossett plane fight strong winds
March 06, 2009 09:49AM
Interesting that person comes forward a year and a half later. Not sure what's up with that.

I was on top of Mt. Lassen the day that happened, everyone in California knew about the very strong Santa Ana. A fire broke out around Lake Davis that day, I have pictures from Lassen of the smoke plume going very strongly southwest.

Question was why he was in Mammoth instead of somewhere in Nevada looking for his speed-record dry lake. I think he just wanted to get away. In a way, he was successful.

Couple this with the testimony of the groundskeeper at the Hilton ranch in Yerington, who said he saw the plane fly back and forth near the ranch that day.

I think it was Nat Geo that had a show about the plane crash. Somehow the five-point harness holding Fossett to the plane was undone...they said even a bear could not unlatch it.

Very intriguing story, still.
avatar Re: NTSB: Witness saw Fossett plane fight strong winds
March 06, 2009 10:12AM
Wind conditions at altitude can be really hairy for light aircraft. In the early 90's the pilot who taught me how to fly (out of Belfast, ME) was chartering a regular customer to Vermont in the winter and ran into a micro-burst downdraft in the Mt. Washington, NH area over Mt. Gillett in a Cessna 172. It forced them down into the pine trees where a Coast Guard helicopter rescued them by cable.

I later asked him if he was able to get the aircraft slowed down for a gentle forced landing in the treetops. He said they settled into the treetops with the aircraft level, going full throttle with zero forward speed due to the headwind! Two hours later, the chopper pilot was registering 50-55 knot indicated airspeed while hovering over the pick-up point.

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