Steve Fossett

Steve Fossett (Getty Images)

RENO, Nev. -- Federal investigators say Steve Fossett apparently ran into a downdraft that was stronger than his small plane could handle before he crashed in the Sierra nearly two years ago.

The National Transportation Safety Board says an examination of the wreckage found more than a year after the fatal 2007 Labor Day crash revealed no sign of malfunctions or failures.

The famed adventurer was the target of a months-long search when he disappeared after taking off that day from an airstrip owned by hotel magnate Barron Hilton in Nevada.

He crashed in the mountains near Mammoth Lakes, Calif.

The NTSB report says confusion over the timing of a reported sighting of Fossett's plane that day steered searchers away from a radar trail that could have helped locate the crash site.