In theory, we are all equal. In practice, not so much.
On Tuesday, the search for millionaire aviator Steve Fossett, who disappeared a month ago in Nevada, was suspended again after what the Civil Air Patrol described as one of the largest efforts to locate a missing plane in modern history.
Fossett, 63, is known for sailing and flying around the world, setting aviation and distance records, including becoming the first person to complete a solo uninterrupted flight around the world in a hot-air balloon, and making the longest nonstop flight in aviation history.
The search had been renewed after Air Force experts thought they detected Fossett’s flight path from radar and satellite images.
According to the Associated Press, the search encompassed a 20,000 square-mile area, involving Civil Air Patrol pilots from Nevada and seven other states, the Nevada National Guard, the Air Force Rescue and Coordination Center, the state Department of Public Safety and ground crews organized by local authorities.
Experts in radar analysis from the Federal Aviation Administration, Air Force, Navy, National Transportation Safety Board and the Civil Air Patrol also were involved, using high-tech methods to try to determine Fossett’s flight path. A sonar-equipped boat has was used to search a lake to determine whether Fossett’s plane crashed there.
After the first two weeks, organizers estimated the effort cost about $600,000.
Would every missing pilot get a search of this magnitude? Of course not.
For example, during the hunt for Fossett, searchers spotted three crashed planes that had never been noticed. Now that the Fossett search is over, according to the New York Times, the Civil Air Patrol and the Nevada Division of Emergency Management plan to return to those sites to investigate.
We hope the Fossett family steps foward and pays for the unprecedented search. Otherwise, what does the Civil Air Patrol say to the family of Average Joe Pilot when his plane goes down, and the search is suspended after two days?