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.


Order Final Flight from Amazon or Powell's World of Books in Oregon


January, 2010

The Nevada Triangle, Steve Fossett, and Final Flight

as seen on BBC4



The following composite images show how the area around the October 15, 1948 group burial has changed over the years.

View is to the northwest: 1 = Grave of unknown soldier, 2 = Group burial [see below], 3 = Group burial site of Gamber, Mortenson, Munn, and Mustonen, 4 = hillside [note absence of trees].

View is to the North: 1 = Grave of unknown soldier, 2 = Group burial site of Gamber, Mortenson, and Munn. Note that the Eucalyptus trees from 1948 have been cut down and the area just outside the cemetery now has residences. The headstones behind the casket in 1948 all predate World War II and some are as old as mid 19th century.

View is to the north: 1 = Grave of unknown soldier. From this view, the unknown soldier and the group burial adjacent to the casket [left] are obscured by the large circular flora wreath and the casket itself.

Three generations of headstones marking the burial site of Lt. Gamber and Cadets Mortenson, Munn, and Mustonen.

1 = Grave of unknown soldier who was buried before October 15, 1948 when the casket for Lt. Gamber and Cadets Mortenson, Munn, and Mustonen was interned. 2 = Group burial of a US Navy crew from August 12, 1948. 3 = The grave of a second unknown soldier immediately to the left of the headstone for Lt. Gamber and Cadets Mortenson, Munn, and Mustonen. This headstone is obscured in all of the previous images from 1948 by flora arrangements and the casket.

I received a note January 4th from Julie Van Pelt, who was doing the copyedits for Final Flight, that her work is done and the book manuscript has been returned to Wilderness Press. I will begin working on these edits in the next few days. Another milestone to publication has been reached!

Next comes cover design, proof editing, galleys [uncorrected proofs], and sending copies out to people who will write blurbs, and sending copies out to reviewers. Pretty soon you will be able to pre-order copies of Final Flight from your favorite bookstores - bricks 'n mortar or on-line.


What They Wore

Results from a forensic and genetic examination of the remains found on Mendel Glacier are what positively identified Leo Mustonen and Glenn Munn. But part of the initial process conducted by JPAC involved the physical examination of the remains. This included clothing and items found in the airmen's pockets.

The importance of examining physical evidence is plain when you consider that coins found in Leo Mustonen's pocket were all from 1942 or earlier. This indicated to investigators that the remains were unlikely to have been from a later date. This conclusion was substantiated by dating the clothing based on photographs and a database maintained by JPAC for uniform items used by the military during various eras.

Click HERE for a PDF document with descriptions and photographs of the clothing worn by Cadets Munn and Mustonen.

Finally, back in 1942 when William Bond, Thomas Hodges, Wes Houseman, and Kirby West first came upon the wreckage of the AT-7 flown by 2nd Lt. William Gamber, they found pieces of a watch with Cadet Mortenson's name. If the watch was issued by the US Army Air Forces, it was most likely an Elgin "A-11" pilot's wrist watch. The A-11 was also manufactured by Bulova.

The A-11 had a chrome-plated case and screw-on stainless steel back. There was a black dial with bold, white numerals and minute markers, along with white hour and minute hands. The seconds hand was of blue steel with a white tip. The case [not including the winding crown] was 31.5 mm or 1 3/8" in diameter.

This watch was issued not only to the USAAF but to RAF personnel. By 1944, the RAF was using watches produced by the International Watch Company.



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