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

March, 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 from Wilderness Press in 2010

Read more about FINAL FLIGHT here.

March 28

This will be my last post for several weeks. I'm leaving this morning for a Grand Canyon expotition [Thank you, Poo]. There will be 15 of us; six on rafts and the remainder in kayaks. We'll be on the river for 21 days - the maximum allowed by the National Park Service. It takes a little over 20 hours to drive from my home in Seattle to the put-in at Lees Ferry and it will be another 22 hours of driving from the take-out at Diamond Creek, near Peach Springs, AZ.


After several weeks of boating on the Colorado River my brain will probably be like jelly when I return. But I hope to get the car unloaded and all the gear put away and, in a couple of days, jump back in to FINAL FLIGHT. Glenn Munn's memorial is May 20th and I want to meet and interview relatives of at least one of the other families before then.

March 24

Wayne Renn is a musician who lives in Brainerd, MN. Renn lives in the house where Leo Mustonen was raised. He has written a song about Cadet Mustonen called Maple Street. Click HERE to listen to a WMA [Windows Media Audio] version of Maple Street.

There is a nice article about Wayne Renn HERE and photos HERE that describes the story behind Maple Street. I've been informed by Glenn Munn's family that Wayne Renn will be performing this song at Glenn's memorial on May 17.
March 13

Google Earth is free software that you must download onto your computer which allows people to view our home planet from above by making use of aerial photos. There are several moderated groups where people discuss issues directly or tangentially connected to mapping, GPS, and so forth.

HERE is one that discusses Leo Mustonen and Glenn Munn and displays a Google Earth image of Mendel Glacier.

HERE is another discussion from a WW II moderated forum.

HERE is another from a Sierra Nevada moderated forum. 

HERE is another from a moderated forum interested in the Beech 18.

You may have to join [free: choose a username and password] to view or make comments to these forums.

March 12

Some newspaper stories of note, which discuss the official identification of Glenn Munn.

It's gratifying to see how much interest this story continues to generate, not only with the media but with the public. It renews my dedication to return to Mendel Glacier and look for Lt. Gamber and Cadet Mortenson.

March 11

A memorial for Glenn Munn is being planned for May 17, 2008 in Colerain, OH. May 17th is Armed Forces Day, created August 31, 1949. The Army will provide full military honors including a rifle party, bugler, and Army chaplain to conduct the funeral service. A flag and flag case will be presented to the family at the cemetery. A local VFW group will be honorary pallbearers.

I feel honored to be invited to the memorial by the Munn family and will be attending. It will also provide me an opportunity to meet Glenn's sisters and listen to their remembrances of their brother.

March 10

Got a call late last night from a CNN reporter. He was in a hurry. Maybe that's why he didn't spell my name correctly. I've got an email in to him asking that he make the change. Meanwhile, the story can be seen here or here at CNN or here at AOL [with several photos from 2005 and Leo Mustonen]. Here is a corrected version of the story. Thanks to Saeed Ahmed at CNN for making the changes!

March 10

I received a very kind and gracious email yesterday afternoon from Tim King with in Salem, Oregon. They have posted this article about Glenn Munn and promise to continue with the story in the next few days.

  March 7

I stopped by the Fresno County Coroner this afternoon and met with David M. Hadden, MD, the Public Administrator-Coroner.

Also, Dr. Venu C. Gopal, Chief Forensic Pathologist, and pathologist, Dr. Michael Chambliss.


I found these three professionals to be congenial, collegial, and helpful in educating me to the finer points of their profession. I showed them my images from last summer on the Mendel Glacier and they explained to me what we were looking at. We also discussed the type of injuries suffered by Leo Mustonen and Glenn Munn and how they could have occurred.

I was also interviewed today on television at the Fresno CBS affiliate [KGPE] by investigative reporter, Rebecca Lindstrom. Dr. Hadden was so excited by the FINAL FLIGHT story that he called the ABC affiliate KFSN and told them about it, encouraging them to come to his office and interview me. Ten minutes later I was greeting Amanda Perez and the interview was on!

There are large file size interviews as AVI or FLV here, on YouTube or below. Each station also included a print story which can be seen at KGPE and KFSN.







March 6

The Beech 18 AT-7 flown by Lt. Gamber with aviation cadets John Mortenson, Ernest Glenn Munn, and Leo Mustonen crashed below Mt. Mendel in Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks. At Park headquarters in Three Rivers is an archive of Park records, books, artifacts, and a herbarium. I spent the day today looking through Superintendent reports and other records to see what they had.



An unusual item in their collection is a piece of aluminum that comes from the wrecked Beech 18. It is unknown where it came from or who added the label information attached to it. The 24 September 1947 date does not refer to when the shard made its way into the Park's collection.
I was assisted in my search through the archives by Tom Burge, Park Archeologist and the Park Museum Technician, Ward Eldredge. Though the pickings were slim I was able to find a mention of the 1947 discovery in a Superintendent report. Also, they had copies from the 1947 Fresno Bee that discuss the discovery. Here is a PDF of a Bee story from September 26, 1947. It's on the front page - an indication of how important the story was at the time - as it continues to be to this day.
March 4

WW II Vet's Body Found, Returning Home

from: Aging With Grace and Dignity: West Virginia Public Broadcasting

By Keri Brown

A 66-year-old bittersweet prayer has been answered for a trio of 80-year-old sisters in Belmont Co., OH, just across the Ohio River from Wheeling. In 1942 an Army Air Corps plane crashed during a training exercise over California's Sierra Nevada Mountains. Their brother, 23-year-old Cadet Earnest Glenn Munn, was one of four crew members lost. Five years later, a hiker discovered the wreckage, some scattered remains and clothing - but nothing more for decades. Then, dashed hope in 2005, and finally news of the recovery of their brother's body just before Valentine's Day 2008. The sisters are now planning a private family funeral.

Listen to the complete 7:40 broadcast here [MP3].

March 3

I visited with Pat Macha today in Mission Viejo. Pat, a well-known airplane archeologist is author, along with Don Jordan, of Aircraft Wrecks. A retired history teacher, Pat is a fantastic source of information about all aspects of what causes airplane crashes and how to safeguard these important historic relicts.

  I have to say: Pat Macha radiates good feelings. He has a booming voice and a perpetual smile. Everybody needs to know someone like Pat. His positive attitude is a breath of fresh air.

Pat's office is a large bedroom with two work stations and floor-to-ceiling bookcases full of aviation titles. He has extensive files on the airplane wrecks of California which includes photos, site information, old newspaper accounts and other data.

Pat Macha's work shows what contributions can be made by a serious amateur.

There is a DVD and a VHS that document Pat's work. The History Channel produced and broadcast Broken Wings. There is also a 1995 release on VHS entitled, Wreck Chasing: Lost But Not Forgotten. Check them out. If you're interested in airplane wrecks, these programs are worth seeing. Also, see Pat's website, for in-depth information about locating and preserving the many aircraft wrecks [civilian, military, and commercial] in California.
March 2

Wikipedia entry HERE for Golden Gate National Cemetery

  Today, on my way down to Los Angeles from Berkeley, I stopped at the Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno. This is where a headstone for Lt. Gamber and Cadets Mortenson, Munn, and Mustonen was placed in 1948. In 2006, after Leo Mustonen was identified, the headstone was updated and replaced.
As you may recall from the January 2008 blog, Capt. Roy F. Sulzbacher with the 6th Army Memorial Division was detailed to Mendel Glacier in 1948 to recover the bodies of four aviators lost during a November 18, 1942 crash.

Capt. Sulzbacher was unable to return with any bodies and died three weeks later of polio.

Oddly, he is buried about 100 yards south of the headstone marking the men he was unable to find.


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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