a difficult hike to the Mount Mendel Glacier, author Peter
Stekel found what he was looking for... airplane wreckage from a
1942 plane crash.
But he also made a gruesome discovery. "The
first thing I thought was, I can't be seeing what I'm seeing" says the
author who grew up in California. Pictures taken by Stekel show the
remains of the unidentified airman where he discovered
it 12,000 feet up in the high Sierras. But at first, he
mistook the dark brown mummified mass for a tree.
realized it was the mummified remains of a World War II airman, the
author began taking pictures: the gold signet ring worn by the aviator,
and the parachute found by his side. But even though Stekel made a
bigger find than he planned, it still troubled him.
through life trying to prepare ourselves for surprises and shocks, but
no matter what you do, there's no way you can prepare for it" says
Forensic anthropologists in Hawaii believe the airman
is one of four men killed in a 1942 plane crash into Mount Mendel. The
remains have been sealed in ice for 60 years, but like a melting
time capsule, the glacier is now revealing the crash site. Two years
ago, the first airman found, 22 year old Leo Mustonen, was discovered
in the same area.
Now Stekel is awaiting identification of the
second airmen so he can tell his story. "If it were me up their on the
glacier, I would want someone to respect my life and what i did
and tell my story, and it's a great story because it's about real
Stekel has planned a book about the 1942 plane crash
called "Final Flight." It will not only tell the story of those four
World War II aviators, but also of the geology of rock and ice glaciers
in the Sierras, as well as hiking to the wreck.