Remains found in Fossett's plane
US investigators say they have found what they believe may be human remains amid the wreckage of adventurer Steve Fossett's plane in eastern California.
The remains, although minimal, are said to be enough to provide a DNA sample for identification testing.
The 63-year-old millionaire disappeared a year ago while on a solo flight from a ranch in Nevada.
His plane was finally located on Wednesday after a hiker handed items belonging to Mr Fossett to police.
The wreckage was found during an aerial search of a stretch of the Sierra Nevada mountains near the town of Mammoth Lakes in a remote part of California.
A ground team later confirmed the identity of the plane, which local officials said seemed to have struck the mountainside head-on.
SOME OF FOSSETT'S RECORDS
1998/2002: Long-distance for solo ballooning
2001/2002: Duration for solo ballooning
2002: First solo round-the-world balloon flight
First balloon crossings of Asia, Africa, Europe, South America, South Atlantic, South Pacific, Indian Oceans
Seven fastest speed sailing titles
13 World Sailing Speed Record Council titles
2001: Fastest transatlantic sailing
2004: Fastest round-the-world sailing
Round-the-world titles for medium airplanes
US transcontinental titles for non-military aircraft
Most of the fuselage had disintegrated, with engine parts scattered several hundred feet away.
Search teams combing the site found more personal effects and what they described as a bone fragment.
"We found human remains, but there's very little," said Mark Rosenker, acting chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board.
DNA tests would be performed on the material, he said.
Madera County Sheriff John Anderson confirmed the find but injected a note of caution. "We don't know if it's human. It certainly could be," he said.
Officials now plan to remove the wreckage of the plane for reassembly and examination. But snow is expected over the weekend, which could potentially hamper the investigation.
Steve Fossett became the first person to circle the globe solo in a balloon in 2002 and had about 100 other world records to his name.
He vanished in September 2007 after taking off from a Nevada ranch for a solo flight.
For more than a year there was no trace of him, despite an intensive search.
But on Monday a hiker found identification documents belonging to him, triggering an aerial search of a new area.
"I hope now to be able to bring to closure a very painful chapter in my life," his widow, Peggy, said in a statement.
"I prefer to think about Steve's life rather than his death and celebrate his many extraordinary accomplishments."
British entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson also paid tribute to his friend and fellow adventurer.
"He led an extraordinary, absolutely remarkable life, and now we can remember him for what he was and move on."