updated 5/2/2008 4:09:48 AM ET 2008-05-02T08:09:48

Nevada's governor intends to ask the widow of missing multimillionaire Steve Fossett to help pay the state's $687,000 tab in the unsuccessful search for the famed adventurer last fall, the governor's spokesman said Thursday.

Ben Kieckhefer, press secretary for Gov. Jim Gibbons, said any assistance from the Fossett family would be voluntary.

"We are going to request that they help offset some of these expenses, considering the scope of the search, the overall cost as well as our ongoing budget difficulties," Kieckhefer told The Associated Press.

Fossett, 63, took off in a small plane Sept. 3 from a ranch south of Yerington on what was supposed to be a short pleasure flight. The self-made business tycoon gained worldwide fame attempting to set records in high-tech balloons, gliders and jets. In 2002, he became the first person to circle the world solo in a balloon.

20,000-square mile area scoured
During a monthlong search, ground crews, the Nevada National Guard and the Civil Air Patrol scoured a 20,000 square-mile area, but turned up no sign of Fossett or his plane.

He had taken off from Barron Hilton's Flying M Ranch, and the hotel magnate later voluntarily sent the state a check $200,000 to cover some of the search costs.

Kieckhefer said with Hilton's contribution, the state is hoping the Fossett family would help make up the $487,000 difference.

Fossett was declared legally dead Feb. 15 by an Illinois judge. In making that determination, Cook County Circuit Court Judge Jeffery Malak said Fossett left a "vast," eight-figure estate.

Michael LoVallo, a Chicago lawyer for Fossett's widow, Peggy, was out of town and not available for comment, his voice mail message said.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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