Airborne location technology brought into air search

Rescuers are becoming increasingly concerned for the safety of record-breaking flyer Steve Fossett now that he has been missing in the Nevada desert for three days.The U.S. Civil Air Patrol has expanded its search area and is using a Gipplsand GA-8 Airvan equipped with the ARCHER (Airborne Real-Time Cueing Hyperspectral Enhanced Reconnaissance) system to help try to find him.ARCHER works by programming a set of parameters describing the target’s colour and shape into an onboard computer to differentiate a potential target from background clutter; the computer then takes a picture of light reflected back from an object on the ground and relays the information back to base. ARCHER can identify a target using as little as ten percent of its characteristics.Mr Fossett was last seen on Monday morning when he took off in fair conditions from Barron Hilton’s Flying M Ranch in Nevada in a Citabria Super Decathalon. The Decathlon is thought to be equipped with an ELT (Emergency Locator Transmitter), but no signals have so far been picked up.More than 17 aircraft have been involved in searching a 600sq-mile area in the hunt for Mr Fossett.