This image shows a color photocopy provided Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2008 by the Madera County Sheriff's Dept. of the reverse side of three pieces of identification believed to belong to Steve Fossett. They were found by a hiker in a rugged part of eastern California.
Steve Fossett arrives at Kent International Airport in England on Feb. 11, 2006.
Police have confirmed that wreckage found in eastern California is of the plane that adventurer Steve Fossett piloted when he disappeared more than a year ago.
Authorities said the confirmation came around 11 p.m. local time on Wednesday night that there was enough left of the plane to confirm it was Fossett's single-engine Bellanca plane.
At a press conference on Thursday, Madera County sheriff John Anderson said searchers will now walk arm-to-arm walk for about a kilometre-and-a-half around the crash site in their search for human remains.
The search started on Wednesday in a rugged part of eastern California after a hiker found identification documents, some of which were confirmed by the Federal Aviation Administration and local police to match up with the American adventurer.
Preston Morrow was hiking just west of the town of Mammoth Lakes on Monday and said he found Fossett's FAA identity card, a pilot's licence, a third ID and $1,005 cash tangled in a bush off a trail.
Local police authenticated two of the documents, including Fossett's pilot's licence.
Police would not release details of the exact location of the possible wreckage.
First clue in over a year
The IDs were the first sign of Fossett's whereabouts since he vanished after taking off in a borrowed plane from a Nevada ranch owned by hotel magnate Barron Hilton on Sept. 3, 2007.
After a search spanning 32,000 square kilometres, the famed aviator was declared legally dead by a judge in February.
The discovery of Fossett's IDs gave his widow renewed hope.
"I am hopeful that this search will locate the crash site and my husband's remains," Peggy Fossett said in a statement Wednesday. "I am grateful to all of those involved in this effort."
Mammoth Lakes, about 145 kilometres south of the ranch Fossett took off from over a year ago, had not been considered a likely place to find the plane.
Aviators flew over the area but given what searchers knew about sightings of Fossett's plane, his plans for when he had intended to return and the amount of fuel he had in the plane, they concentrated their search north of the town.