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Final Flight
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Final Flight
Peter Stekel

In October 2005, two mountaineers were climbing the icy couloir above Mendel Glacier in the High Sierra. They never made it. They found a body instead, the remarkably well-preserved remains of a man in a WWII uniform, frozen in the ice. The “iceman” immediately gripped the attention of the nation and a media storm ensued. Who was the Frozen Airman? Where did he come from and how did he get there? The mystery drew writer and Sierra devotee Peter Stekel deeper and deeper as he investigated: A navigation training flight missing since 1942 with its four-man crew. A crash site 150 miles off-course from its reported destination. Early attempts at recovery thwarted. Empty graves and botched records. Bad weather, bad luck, bad timing. Families waiting, long forgotten.

Then, in 2007, the unthinkable happened again. Stekel himself discovered a second body in the glacier. Another young man would finally be coming home. Through years of archival research, interviews, conjecture, and his own mountaineering trips to the crash site, Stekel uncovered who these four young men were who had lost their lives in service to their country. Final Flight explores the story of the ill-fated flight, and the bad leads and misinformation surrounding it for over 60 years. It’s also author Peter Stekel’s personal quest to investigate the many threads of the story, from the crew’s disappearance to the discovery of the two airmen.

Along the way Stekel became convinced that the accepted facts of how these soldiers went missing did not give the whole story. The only way to find out for sure what happened was to discover all he could about these young men and their times, the war-era military they enlisted in, their training and experience, their Beech 18 aircraft, the state of navigation and weather science at midcentury, and their icy tomb. The book deftly weaves these threads into a gripping account that’s part mystery, part history, and a personal journey to uncover the truth of what happened on Nov. 18, 1942. In the process Stekel rewrites the young aviators' last days and takes us on their final flight.

Market price: $17.95
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