Searchers: Airplane door not Fossett's

BRIDGEPORT, CALIF. " Searchers found a plane door Wednesday while hunting in rugged mountains for missing adventurer Steve Fossett, but say it doesn't appear to be from the small plane he was flying when he disappeared last year.

Search team spokesman Keith Szlater said the door isn't made of the same material used on the fabric-and-aluminum-frame plane Fossett was flying. He added that it appears to be too old to have come from Fossett's plane. No other aircraft debris was found.

The door was found by searchers, led by Canadian geologist and adventure racer Simon Donato, near Mount Patterson, at 11,673 feet the highest peak in the Sweetwater Mountains on the Nevada-California border. It was hauled out and will be turned over to authorities.

Fossett was declared legally dead in February, five months after he was last seen taking off by plane from a remote Nevada ranch owned by hotel magnate Barron Hilton.

The search team is focusing on remote canyons and wooded areas in the Sweetwaters and nearby Bodie Hills, near where Fossett was last seen. The area, about 110 miles south of Reno, could conceal wreckage not visible to the many private and military planes that searched last year.

The 10 team members, elite athletes and expert mountaineers, are paying their own way. They'll continue looking through Friday and possibly Saturday, covering 15 to 20 miles a day depending on the terrain.

Fossett gained worldwide fame for his scores of attempts and successes in setting records in high-tech balloons, gliders, jets and boats. In 2002, he became the first person to circle the world solo in a balloon.


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