WASHINGTON Sudden turbulence likely caused adventurer Steve Fossett to lose control of the small plane he was piloting and crash into a mountain in California in 2007, U.S. safety investigators said on Thursday.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said Fossett, 63, a skilled pilot who was killed in the crash, said the force of powerful downward bursts of air probably exceeded the climbing capabilities of the single-engine plane.
Fossett vanished after setting out alone on a pleasure flight in September 2007 from the airstrip of hotel magnate Barron Hilton's ranch in Nevada. Despite a lengthy search, the wreckage and Fossett's remains were not discovered for more than a year in steep and heavily wooded terrain near Mammouth Lakes.
The small plane was destroyed by impact and fire, investigators said. Parts of the aircraft were scattered over a large area of the mountain at around 10,000 feet near the Nevada border.
(Reporting by John Crawley)