a blog by Peter Stekel

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


Read more about FINAL FLIGHT here.


August  2011

I will be in California this merry month of August. I first plan to visit Hester Lake, via Bishop Pass, in LeConte Canyon, and then will proceed to Huntington Lake on the west side of the Sierra. This is to research my latest book project, Haunted by Waters.

Haunted by Waters

During the early morning hours of September 6, 1943, B-24  #41-28463 piloted by Lt. Charles W. Turvey, with co-pilot Lt. Robert M. Hester, navigator Lt. William T. Cronin, Lt. Ellis H. Fish, S/Sgt Robert O. Bursey, and Sgt Howard Wandtke disappeared over the Sierra Nevada when flying home to Hammer Field AAF base in Fresno, CA.

They would not be found until 1960 when two USGS geologists and the NPS LeConte Canyon ranger found the nose and tail section of a B-24 sticking out of a remote High Sierra lake about two air miles south of Mendel Glacier.

Later during the morning of December 6, 1943 a squadron of B-24s left Hammer Field to find the missing plane piloted by Turvey and Hester. Capt. William Darden piloted "The Exterminator," #42-7674. Experiencing some kind of trouble, Capt. Darden ordered the crew to bail out.

Only two were able to do so: co-pilot Lt Culos Marion Settle and radioman, S/Sgt George Barulic. The remaining crew [Lt Samuel Schlosser, Sgt Richard "Dick" Mayo, Sgt Franklin C. Nyswonger, Sgt Richard Lee Spangle, and Sgt Donald Vanderplasche or Vander Plasche] perished along with Capt Darden when their B-24 ditched in Huntington Lake reservoir.

Their plane wasn't found until 1955 when the reservoir of Huntington Lake was drained so repairs could be done on the dam.

These are the stories I will tell in Haunted by Waters.

Following my trips to Hester and Huntington Lakes I will make my first trip to Mendel Glacier since Final Flight was published. If you haven't bought a copy of Final Flight yet - don't you think it is time?


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