Beech 18 AT-7 Navigator Copyright Museum of Flight - all rights reserved

April, 2008


a blog by Peter Stekel

FINAL FLIGHT is the story of four aviators lost in Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks on November 18, 1942

FINAL FLIGHT: coming in late 2009 from Wilderness Press

Read more about FINAL FLIGHT here.

April 30
There is a nice write-up about Pat Macha and the work he does to identify and document military [and other] aircraft wrecks. The article is in today's Los Angeles Times. Pat is the aviation archeologist I met with last month during my research trip to California. HERE is the link to the Times page. There is a video there too. I'm not sure how long the newspaper link will be posted so HERE is another link - sans video. HERE is a link to Pat's website if you want to read more about his work. Thanks to Hill Penfold for letting me know about this story.
April 28
I'm back from the Grand Canyon - and what a grand canyon it is. Didn't do much work on FINAL FLIGHT [can you blame me?] but I did think long and hard about the role of wilderness in our lives. All this will come to fruition in the wilderness chapter.
When I got home and fired up my computer to check my email, the inbox had this poem about Glenn Munn written by Louis Marin. He also composed a poem for Leo Mustonen back in 2005, "Leo Mustonen Earns His Angel Wings," which Martin read at Leo's funeral.

Ernest G. Munn

 Let the world know
the blond bomber has returned home.
May he rest in peace.

They called it
a ‘routine training flight’
when Ernest G. Munn
and the other cadets
strapped into an AT-7
to fly across the Sierra Nevada's.

From his boyhood
in Colerain, Ohio
he had dreams of flying.
Now he would learn to fight
in the Second Great War,
where he would see
the world from a lofty perch.

At 23, he raised his hand
to enlisted in the Army,
the way young men did back then.
He kissed his sisters goodbye
and told his darling mother
never to cut her flowing hair,
unless he was there.

For sixty-six years, his family waited
for tall, good-looking.
Ernest Munn to come walking
back through the front door,
ribbons dangling from leather jacket,
and a jaunty cap
over his blond curls.
Sixty-six years. That is a long time
to be sleeping in the ice
of a frozen California mountainside.

A telegram came,
with Army formality,
and the starkness of printed words.
The uniformed Major read it
slowly, formally:
Cadet Ernest G. Munn (stop)
and crew failed to return (stop)
from a routine training mission (stop).

His mother's heart was rent.
Surely it must be a mistake,
"I must wait until the Army
gives me the news
that my boy has been found."

Patrols and searchers
combed the land
where they thought the plane went down
but they didn't find a trace
of twisted wreckage or broken bodies.
His flight locker was cleaned
and given to another cadet,
who yearned to fly and fight.
Ernest Munn slowly faded into memory,
as snow and ice entombed
bodies and airplane parts,
enclosed them in eternal winter's
cold grip.

Sixty-six years of rest for Ernest Munn’s corpse.
Decades of faded memories and dashed hopes.
Sixty-six years of emptiness and a boy missing.
Though his mother lived to be 102,
she never cutting her hair,
waiting for a promise fulfilled
with word of his fate.

It seems strange that a man
destined to rule far off skies
should spend sixty-six years trapped
on the ground,
beneath layers of ice and snow
In Kings' Canyon.

After all these years,
warming revealed a tattered sweater,
unopened parachute and gold ring
on a fallen man’s left hand,
as it emerged from a thawing glacier.
Ernest Munn was found!

Ernest G. Munn,
The blond bomber has returned home.
May he rest in peace.


Marin is a TSgt in the USAF.

Mendel Glacier, Kings Canyon National Park


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copyright 2010 Peter Stekel, all rights reserved

FINAL FLIGHT, coming from Wilderness Press in 2010



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