Saturday, October 04, 2008

Steve Fossett

I'm sure most have heard by now that Steve Fossett's plane has been found. I think missing persons cases are one of the greatest tragedies anyone left behind has to endure. The mystery and incompleteness of the ending is torturous. An acquaintance of mine had to suffer through her mom being missing for a few months. Eventually they found her and her car in the bottom of a pond or lake. A very sad end, but by the time it came it was also a relief, just to have some idea of what happened and have her found.

The Steve Fossett case was a big deal because he was a daredevil, a bit of a celebrity. I actually participated in the search for him, looking at hundreds of satellite images for his plane using Amazon's Mechanical Turk. It was fascinating work - see some of the sightings people made. I suspected we would not be looking for an intact plane, but rather anything that could be wreckage. I believe the search did turn up a number of previously unlogged small plane wrecks - I wonder how many of those involved other less publicized missing persons cases? It was a case of random people all over the world coming together to do something needed. That doesn't happen too often, it seems. What if people did that for just anyone, not just a famous person?

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