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They concluded that the Bellanca was probably unable - even at full power - to climb out of powerful downdrafts.
Within two days of Fossett's disappearance, experienced pilots were speculating that even the master of aerial adventure could have fallen victim to the notorious winds on the Sierra's eastern front.
"There's been times when I've been flying in the wind and my blood turns cold," Adam Mayberry, a private pilot and former spokesman for the Reno-Tahoe International Airport, said at the time.
The winds are said to be so powerful and tricky they can swirl an airplane like a leaf and even shear off a wing.