You can help find missing Steve Fossett, uncle of SCA member

Mistress Medb Renata (mka Renata Fossett), niece of Steve Fossett, the pilot who has been missing in the Nevada desert since September 3, seeks volunteer help from fellow SCAdians to find him. Anyone with a web browser can help, using a special satellite image system set up by Amazon.com.

In an open letter, Mistress Medb writes:

Hello, and apologies if you are receiving this message more than once,

In the SCA it is possible to know people very well, but not have any idea who they are in the modern world. So many of you may not know my real name, Renata Fossett, or that Steve Fossett is my uncle. Steve has been missing in the Nevada desert since he went for a short flight last Monday and never returned. I am hoping you can help find him. The search is going on and not diminishing, although coverage on the news has scaled back somewhat. A week sounds like a long time, but he is a stubborn, knowledgeable survivalist. If anyone can come through this it will be him, but he is undoubtedly in need of assistance or he would have hiked out by now. So it is vital that the search for him continue and in that area you can all help.

I just found out tonight that they are using a systematic search of satellite images and anyone with a computer who can examine the images can help. All the details are on his website: http://www.stevefossett.com/. They are also asking for helicopters and observers to aid in the search directly. I have left a message volunteering to do this, although I have no training in that area. If anyone out there does have a helicopter and can help search, please call, but if you can't do that, please sign up to help with the satellite image search. Here are all the particulars of what they are asking for:

Mark is still looking for additional aviation assets to aid this work - specifically:

  • Additional turbine helicopters required: We can still use more turbine-powered small helicopters to explore this rugged terrain. Small and powerful aircraft are preferred - up to and including Jet Ranger in size.
  • Additional trained helicopter observers still sought: we also need more trained helicopter observers who can make their own way to the ranch and stay for a period of time.

If you have an appropriate aircraft available, or are an experienced observer and wish to volunteer, please call Karen at (415) 256-9273. She will put you in touch with the search teams.

Internet satellite image analysis: 'The 'Amazon Mechanical Turk' internet-based satellite image analysis project continues in its efforts to find Steve. To offer your help, please go to: http://www.mturk.com/mturk/preview?groupId=9TSZK4G35XEZJZG21T60&kw=Flash. There you will be shown sample images of a similar aircraft and an actual recent single satellite image to review. You will be asked to note if there are any objects that resemble an airplane like the one Steve Fossett was last seen flying on Monday. The instructions to report are straightforward.

You can also see the same area in context on Google Earth, although to ensure you see the most recent image of the assigned area on Google Earth you will need to follow additional instructions.

We would like once again to express our deep thanks to all who have volunteered their time and equipment, to those are participating in the Amazon Mechanical Turk project as well as to those who have sent their heartfelt best wishes and prayers for Steve.

Stay positive. We are.

I really appreciate all your good thoughts and prayers towards finding Steve quickly and alive - Thank You.

~ Mistress Medb Renata
Scribe Armarius of Caid
scribearmarius@sca-caid.org
~ M Renata Fossett

Technical overview of the way this works

I was happy to volunteer some time for this task tonight (so far I'm at about 150 images reviewed). But as a computer engineer, I was also intrigued by how the process works. Amazon provides a description page that explains how their Mechanical Turk system lets a computer system coordinate the work of thousands of humans doing something (image analysis) that is very difficult for computers to do themselves.

Justin