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Steve Fossett, American adventurer and the first person to circle the world solo in a hot air balloon, disappeared on September 3, 2007. The aviator took off in a single engine plane borrowed from a Nevada ranch owned by Barron Hilton. He disappears without a trace – that is until now.

Hikers who were near the town of Mammoth Lakes, California, discovered personal identification, pilots and aircraft licenses and cash, which included $1,000 in cash, tangled in a clump of bushes on Tuesday. The weathered papers had Fossett’s name on them and the money was battered. There was no sign of a plane wreckage in the immediate vicinity.

Mammoth Lakes Police Department chief Randy Schienle verified that the items had been found. He has initiated a ground and air search of the area based upon the new evidence that has surfaced.

Numerous conspiracy theories have surfaced over the past year, including speculation that Fossett staged his own death and is now out of the country living under a new identity. Fossett’s good friend and financier, British billionaire Richard Branson, scoffs at the idea that his pal would have undertaken a scam of this kind.

Peggy Fossett petitioned the courts to declare her husband legally dead so that she could put his Will through probate. The request was carried out by an Illinois judge on February 15, 2008.

Check out our photo gallery below.

UPDATE: PHOTOS of WRECKAGE at this link: Fossett’sBellanca 8kcab n240r aircraft was found.