Final Flight: The Mystery of a WW II Plane Crash and the Frozen Airmen in the High Sierra

Overview

In October 2005, two mountaineers climbing above Mendel Glacier in the High Sierra found the mummified remains of a man in a WWII uniform, entombed in the ice. The "Frozen Airman" discovery created a media storm and a mystery that drew author Peter Stekel to investigate. What did happen to the four-man crew who perished on a routine navigation training flight in 1942, 150 miles off-course from its reported destination?

Stekel found bad weather, bad luck, and bad timing. Empty ...

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Final Flight: The Mystery of a WW II Plane Crash and the Frozen Airmen in the High Sierra

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Overview

In October 2005, two mountaineers climbing above Mendel Glacier in the High Sierra found the mummified remains of a man in a WWII uniform, entombed in the ice. The "Frozen Airman" discovery created a media storm and a mystery that drew author Peter Stekel to investigate. What did happen to the four-man crew who perished on a routine navigation training flight in 1942, 150 miles off-course from its reported destination?

Stekel found bad weather, bad luck, and bad timing. Empty graves, botched records, and misguided recovery efforts. Then, in 2007, the unimaginable happened again. Stekel himself discovered a second body in the glacier. Another young man would finally be coming home.

Through meticulous research, interviews, and mountaineering trips to the site, Stekel uncovered the story of these four young men. Final Flight explores their ill-fated trip and the misinformation surrounding it for more than 60 years. The book is a gripping account that's part mystery, part history, and part personal journey to uncover the truth of what happened on November 18, 1942. In the process Stekel narrates the young aviators' last days and takes us on their final flight.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Stekel has breathed warm life into these long lost World War II airmen who disappeared while on a training mission in 1942. Entombed in High Sierra glacial ice for more than sixty years before being discovered by climbers and the author himself, Stekel skillfully weaves the crew's fate in these rugged mountains with his own quest to unravel the mystery." —Eric Blehm, bestselling author of The Last Season and The Only Thing Worth Dying For

Because truth really does trump fiction for drama, Final Flight reads like a good novel and sticks with you like a particularly affecting play. Superbly researched, compellingly written, and lovingly relived, this gripping tale both solves an old mystery and serves as a moving tribute to all fallen fliers. By actually trekking to the remote site of the crash and making a stunning discovery there, Stekel rescues a sad story from dead-end status and turns it into a living memorial.—Robert Michael Pyle, author of Chasing Monarchs and Sky Time in Gray's River

... [An] invigorated appreciation of the dedication of the men and women of the Greatest Generation.? Michael Sledge, author of Soldier Dead: How We Recover, Identify, Bury, and Honor Our Military Fallen

Capture[s] the history, geography, and the mystery surrounding this inspiring tale of the High Sierra.—Pat Macha, author of Aircraft Wrecks in the Mountains and Deserts of California

Those who love the high country will find this a fascinating read.—William Tweed, Co-author of Challenge of the Big Trees: A Resource History of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

If you love our parks, and if you love a good mystery, you need Final Flight; it will be a read you can not put down. Stekel does a masterful job of painstakingly putting this seven-decade old "jigsaw puzzle" together touchingly for you: frozen airman by frozen airman.—Charles R. "Butch" Farabee, Jr., author of Death, Daring, & Disaster - Search and Rescue in the National Parks

A thoroughly enjoyable...detective story—Douglas H. Clark, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Geology Department, Western Washington University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780899974750
  • Publisher: Wilderness Press
  • Publication date: 9/14/2010
  • Pages: 236
  • Sales rank: 713,830
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Table of Contents

Prologue xi

Chapter 1 A Body in the Glacier 1

Chapter 2 Home from the Mountain 5

Chapter 3 Who Is the Frozen Airman? 17

Chapter 4 The More I Know, the Less I Know 25

Chapter 5 Playing Detective 35

Chapter 6 First Discovery: 1947 43

Chapter 7 What Was Recovered: 1948 55

Chapter 8 The Frozen Airman Is Identified 67

Chapter 9 The Frozen Airman Is Not Alone: August 2007 73

Chapter 10 My Report 85

Chapter 11 On the Trail of the Second Airman 91

Chapter 12 Understanding the Beech 18 AT-7 Navigator 97

Chapter 13 The Boys 109

Chapter 14 Their Training 131

Chapter 15 They Weren't the Only Ones 157

Chapter 16 It Rained Cats and Dogs All Day 173

Chapter 17 Carried by Flight: A Scenario for Disaster 187

Chapter 18 East to West: A More Probable Scenario 201

Chapter 19 Please Remember Me 215

References 222

Acknowledgments 231

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