Fossett Search Reopens Old Mystery

The extensive but unsuccessful search for adventurer Steve Fossett reopened an old mystery for William Ogle: does it help explain how his father disappeared in the same area more than forty years ago?

"I look at myself on his lap," said Ogle, who was just 5 when his father went missing. "I look pretty happy to be sitting on my dads lap. And I've been told he really cared about us."

In 1964 Charles Ogle was flying high, a land developer on the brink of a multi-million dollar deal.

On an August morning he took off in his private plane from the airport in Oakland, California, apparently headed for a business meeting in Reno, reports CBS News correspondent John Blackstone. But then he just seemed to vanish, leaving questions for everyone.

"The first grade teacher would complain to my mom and say I'm spending too much time looking out the windows, and when they asked me why I was looking out the windows, I would say, 'well I'm looking for my dad's plane to come down,'" said Ogle.

Searchers spent just two and a half days looking for a crash site. When they found nothing, local newspapers speculated that perhaps Ogle was "coasting around somewhere with an attractive, unidentified woman about 27 and possibly the better part of $75,000 in cash."

William Ogle began to have a haunting thought: could his father have staged his own disappearance?

In the years since, William discovered that his father, who was divorced from his mother, did have a girlfriend but she didn't get on the plane with him that day.

Then those searching for Steve Fossett found a previously unidentified crash site in the Sierras.

A grainy aerial photo revealed an old wreck. Ogle wondered, could it be his father's plane?

"It would be nice to have the closure," said Ogle. "To know he didn't just run off. An accident, something happened."

This week, CBS News obtained aircraft ID numbers from the old wreckage that investigators had failed to give William Ogle. We had to tell him it is not his father's plane.

"I've been dealing with it for 40 years," said Ogle. "They may not find his wreck. And I'll continue to deal with it. And that's something I've just accepted."

And so the boy who spent so long looking into the sky for his father will have to keep looking.

  • John Blackstone

    From his base in San Francisco, CBS News correspondent John Blackstone covers breaking stories throughout the West. That often means he is on the scene of wildfires, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and rumbling volcanoes. He also reports on the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley and on social and economic trends that frequently begin in the West.