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Fossett aircraft contains 'minimal' human remains

But enough to provide a DNA sample

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Investigators probing the crash site of Steve Fossett's Bellanca Super Decathlon - in mountainous terrain near the town of Mammoth Lakes, Mono County, California - have confirmed the wreckage contains "minimal" human remains, but sufficient for DNA identification.

Fosset took off on 3 September 2007 from hotelier Barron Hilton's Flying M Ranch, roughly 70 miles southeast of Reno, Nevada, to scout possible lake bed locations for a planned attempt on the world land-speed record. He promptly disappeared, and an extensive search failed to locate him or his aircraft. He was officially declared dead in February this year.

On Monday, hiker Preston Morrow discovered the missing adventurer's pilot's licence with other documentation, clothing and cash at around 10,000ft up in "tough terrain" close to Mammoth Lakes. Search teams from Mono and neighbouring Madera Counties quickly located his aircraft, which was subsequently identified by its "number plate".

Madera County Sheriff John Anderson told media that the aircraft appeared to have hit a mountain head-on. He explained: "The crash looked so severe I doubt if someone would have walked away from it. There was no body in the plane. We have not found any human remains at the crash site."

Now, however, the matter appears to be settled. According to the BBC, Sir Richard Branson yesterday said of his friend: "The most important thing is that the family know what's happened. He led an extraordinary, absolutely remarkable life, and now we can remember him for what he was and move on."

Fossett's achievements during a long career of daredevil escapades include records for the first solo round-the-world balloon flight and seven fastest-speed sailing titles. Back in 2005, he successfully completed the first solo round-the-world circumnavigation without refuelling in the Virgin GlobalFlyer. After an epic 67 hours in the air, he told Richard Branson: "That was a big one." ®

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