So is Steve Fossett dead or alive?

A few days ago, $1000, a sweater, an ID card and a pilot’s license — both with Steve Fossett’s name on them — were found in a bush west of Mammoth lakes, in eastern California’s Inyo national forest. Authorities are investigating the items as well as the entire area in a 10-mile radius.

Millionaire adventurer and world-record breaker Steve Fossett disappeared on the 3rd of September 2007. On this date, he took off in a single-engine plane from Nevada to head to California, but has not been seen, or heard from ever since. On his disappearance, a 20,000 mile area was searched in aim to find Fossett — probably one of the most intensive hunts in US history. Although his body has not been found, nor has any plane wreckage, in February of 2008, his wife had him declared dead. I don’t know how the law works here, but surely there must be a minimum time before which you cannot declare someone dead if missing, no? In this case, he wasn’t even given 6 months.

So what if he’s alive? Well, that hasn’t been ruled out. Fossett’s story resulted in the concoction of many conspiracy theories saying that he might have faked his own death. News reports concluded that Fossett was leading a double life before he vanished and rumors were that he had a few mistresses and that he had made some horrendous investment decisions — enough to keep the theories alive. Oh how boring life would be without juicy rumors and conspiracy theories!

Other than some snippets of negative publicity, Fossett’s adventurous feats have been an inspiration to many; we at Gadling have often covered his challenges. He was the first person to fly around the world solo in a balloon, and the first person to fly around the world in a plane without refueling it. He has a total of 115 records in aviation, gliding, ballooning, sailing, boating, mountaineering, skiing, triathlon, and even dog-sledding.

Perhaps this new evidence will help get some closure to this case. Or perhaps it will stir up an entire new trail of investigation.