Fossett’s wife praises effort

“Our hopes are high and I am confident of a successful resolution to this search,” Peggy Fossett said in a written statement.

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“The search for Steve Fossett is intense, thorough, and highly professional,” she continued. “I am certain that, under no circumstances, would it be possible to assemble a better, more experience and organised team, both on site and off.”

Fossett, the first person to fly a balloon solo around the world in 2002, disappeared last Monday after taking off alone in a small private plane in Nevada.

Rescue officials are searching a vast, largely barren area of the western state, sending planes and helicopters patrolling the air, divers into a lake and analysts poring over data on the ground. They have found several wrecks from past accidents, but no signs of Fossett.

Searchers using Google Earth

Web surfers were asked to help in the search by examining thousands of new satellite images from Google Earth of the area.

The search is being organised by Amazon.com’s Mechanical Turk artificial intelligence project.

“The task is to flag any satellite images which contain foreign objects that may resemble Steve’s airplane or parts of a plane,” the site instructed users.

Fossett has a reputation of being able to get out of tough situations and made a record-setting solo non-stop airplane flight around the world in 2005.

“More than anything else, Steve Fossett believes in achieving success through calculated, meticulous planning and organisation and it is that spirit which permeates this team,” Peggy Fossett said.