Final Flight: A Personal Journey
into the Heart of the High Sierra.
The manuscript for Final Flight is
finished and is now in the hands of my editor at
Flight - the story
Shaping patterns of reality
with imagination, writers express their curiosity with the
world. Like scientists, writers find pleasure in studying
and bringing order to a chaotic universe.
Unlike scientists, they
do so without relying solely on being rational. Instead,
they pursue human stories that appeal to heart and
Read my autumn, 2006
Sierra Heritage Magazine story about the crash.
2nd Lt. William Gamber
Here is such a story of human proportions - one that continues to command news
headlines and capture the imagination of readers everywhere.
Once upon a time, in 1942, US Army Air Forces 2nd Lt.
William Gamber departed Sacramento, CA on a routine training
flight. The pilot and his three student aviation cadets were never seen
again. Wreckage found in 1947 in a remote area of Sequoia
& Kings Canyon National Parks was confirmed as belonging to Lt.
Gamber's plane a Beech 18 AT-7 #41-21079. A 1948 recovery team
lead by Captain Roy Sulzbacher returned empty-handed. Everything was forgotten until October, 2005,
when climbers found the mummified body of an aviator
embedded within Mendel Glacier. Five months later the "Ice Man" was
identified as Leo Mustonen, one of Lt. Gamber's cadets and the
story was forgotten again.
During my August, 2007, expedition to Mendel
Glacier I was surprised to find another one of Lt. Gamber's crew
On Friday, February 8, 2008, the family of
Cadet Ernest Glenn Munn was notified by the US military
Repatriation Department that he was the person I found last
summer. He will be returned home and buried in St. Clairsville,
Click for images of the Beech 18 engine [1,
Munn's ring, his
parachute, the author of "Final
2] with engine
wreckage, a portion of Munn's
sweater, site of
Munn's burial in the ice,
and teeth from his comb.
© 2007 by Peter Stekel. All
See wreckage from the Beech 18 piloted by Lt.
View or download
missing plane story and enigma of the two cadets appearance in the
glacier forms the backbone of my latest project - a
non-fiction book, FINAL FLIGHT.
Mendel Glacier, Kings Canyon
Where is the Mendel Glacier? Click
Clues, red herrings and a vanishing witness make FINAL
FLIGHT a classic, yet true-life, detective story. Why was
the aircraft 150 miles off-course? Why has there been confusion
about where the plane
really crashed? How could human remains lie hidden for so
long? How did the these aviators come to be buried in a glacier? Will
the other two bodies surface? What about the plane?
cultures, people care deeply about what happens to their bodies
after death. It is our duty to ensure that these cadets are
treated with the respect that we, ourselves, would expect.
FINAL FLIGHT is an aviation narrative delivering irony,
pathos and tragedy while tying together generations and time.
Chapters in the book will discuss aircraft design along with the
mechanical and navigational limitations that explain possible
crash scenarios. Reviewing the search and rescue operations
clears up confusion over the wreck's location. Separate chapters
integrate important topics such as mountain weather and glacial geology
into the storyline. As the
sleuth in the story, I critically appraise contradictions in the
Ice Man's history. Information about removing the Ice Man from
the glacier and determining his identity is provided along with
biographies of the missing men.
Videos of Darwin Canyon and Mendel
I have been interviewed for television news
programs on Fresno and Seattle TV stations. Some of the broadcasts
are available HERE.
Glenn Munn comes home
Wheeling News- Register 5/15/08
WTOV-9 Steubenville, OH 5/15/08
Ernest Glenn Munn is identified
Angeles Times 3/12/08
San Jose Mercury-News 3/12/08
Francisco Chronicle 3/11/08
Seattle Times 2/14/08
friendly [repeat of 2/12/08 Fresno
WTOV-TV Steubenville 2/13/08 WV [Ernest Glenn
Munn is identified]
WTRF-TV Wheeling, WV 2/13/08
Fresno Bee 2/12/08
web edition 2/12/08
printer friendly 2/12/08
Discovery on Mendel Glacier -
San Jose Mercury News 9/24/07
front page print edition
[0.5 MB each]
San Jose Mercury News 9/24/07 web edition
1 web edition 8/26/07
1 print edition
[1.3 MB each]
2 web edition 8/22/07
3 web edition 8/21/07
3 print edition
[1.2-2.2 MB each]
Many of the following articles are repeats
from either the Fresno Bee or from wire service stories.
However, the geographic range [as far away as Australia] excited
by the story is very impressive. I believe it suggests how
compelling this story is to so many people.
Eureka Times-Standard 8/21/07 print edition
Spokane Spokesman-Review web edition
Spokane Spokesman-Review web edition 8/25/07
Spokesman-Review print edition
JPEG 1,2 [6-10 MB]
United Press International
San Diego Union-Tribune
Sydney Daily Telegraph [Australia]
Los Angeles Times
web edition 8/21/07
Seattle Times print edition
[San Francisco, Oakland]
KMPH TV 1
KMPH TV 2
Learn more about the work being
done to find and identify other wrecks by clicking
the Sierra Nevada with a focus on Sequoia & Kings Canyon
2009 Peter Stekel
All Rights Reserved.
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