Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Tribute to our "Whitey" Feightner at the Cleveland National Air Show

Silver Wings Over Washington
Ron David, President; RADM. Whitey Feightner, USN (Ret.), Vice President; Joan Stalk, Treasurer; Ray Kester, CW04 USN (Ret.), Secretary
Board: MG Joe Anderson, USMC (Ret.); Col. Randy Brandt, USAF (Ret.); Col. E.P. Deatrick USAF (Ret.); Steve Craven; Debbie Gallaway; Pete King; Capt. Bud Orr, USN (Ret.); Capt. Zip Rausa, USN (Ret.); Col. Charles Stallworth USAF (Ret.)

Our mission is to provide an educational foundation that inspires, advocates, and fosters a venue for learning through aviation for the younger generation; a forum for networking among members and colleagues with outstanding speakers and camaraderie across the board. "What's Past is Prologue"

The September 2014 Silver Wings Speakers Luncheon Serie
is scheduled for THURSDAY, September 25, 2014

Our distinguished speakers
MG Joseph Anderson, USMC (Ret. ) and Lt. Col. Art Nalls, USMC (Ret.)
will address our members and guests

"The Cleveland National Air Show with
Tribute to Rear Admiral Whitey Feightner
featuring the Harrier and the L39 Albatross"

Dear Members and Friends,

On Labor Day weekend a contingent of the OBP DC attended the annual Cleveland National Air Show  which is held at Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland, Ohio. We are honored to have Art Nalls who flew the Sea Harrier and Joe Anderson who flew the L39 "Albatross"  during the air display.

At the spectacular air show, the highlight was a unique tribute paid by Nalls Aviation, the Blue Angels, and the Cleveland National Air Show to our very own World War II Ace, Rear Admiral E.L. "Whitey" Feightner, a truly american icon. The best was yet to come for Whitey (who will turn 95 years old next month) when, following the Blue Angels's performance, Anderson regaled Whitey with a ride in Art’s L39 and roared into the blue sky. Whitey basked in every minute with sheer delight.

Gang of Four
L to R: Art Nalls, Joe Anderson, Whitey Feightner and Gene Deatrick
Our dear friend, Col. Gene Deatrick, USAF (Ret.),  also had the opportunity to relish and savor Joe's flying skills in the L39 when he rode back seat after the air show.  Nalls' SHAR crew did a superb job and under Pat Hatfield' s indisputable organization, the planning was smooth and came off like clockwork. Silver Wingers David and Ginger Vuitch drove from Alexandria, joined the party in Cleveland and were well entertained by the air show, a great time was had by all!

The hospitality and welcome extended by Nalls Aviation was outstanding.

Gene Deatrick’s son, Will, recorded a wonderful audiovisual documentary which will be presented.

About LtCol. Art Nalls, USMC (Ret.)

"Art Nalls has bought the ultimate boy's toy: he's the only private owner of a Royal Navy Sea Harrier, which he rebuilt with a little help from a 400,000-page manual.

Art Nalls reclines in front of his Sea Harrier at St Mary's County Regional Airport in Maryland
Art Nalls reclines in front of his Sea Harrier at his home base, St Mary's County Regional Airport in Maryland who says, “She's like having a mistress - only more fun and way more expensive.”

‘When people see it in flight it inspires awe,’ booms Art Nalls, the only person in the world to privately own a working Harrier jump jet.
‘People can’t believe ten tons of aluminum can float motionless on a sea of noise. I get a kick out of watching the crowds at air shows.
'As soon as I gun the engine, people put down their hot dogs and look upwards with their mouths wide open, like a bunch of baby birds waiting to be fed.
'You don’t get the same kick looking at a jet sitting on the ground in a museum. She’s like having a mistress – only more fun and way more expensive.’

Nalls love affair with the plane began during his days as a Marine pilot.
‘I flew 65 different types of aircraft. I was less than enthused when I was chosen to fly the AV-8A Harrier. It had a horrible reputation as a difficult and busy aircraft.
'I was apprehensive, but that all changed when I took one up for the first time. I strapped in and everything after that was a blur. The Harrier accelerated forward like a rifle shot, and by the time I’d reached the end of the runway I was going 450 knots. I was amazed at what this plane could do. I was hooked!’
He went on to work as a test pilot at Edwards Air Force Base, where one of his jobs was to take Harriers to 45,000ft and shut down the engine.
‘I have more than six hours of flight time in single-engine jets without the engine running,’ he grins.
‘At 45,000ft I’d shut everything down, glide down to 25,000ft and then restart. Thankfully for me the Harriers always restarted.’

‘The first time I took her up was magical. There is something poetic about the quality of the engineering. This plane can roll, climb, dive and turn, but what’s staggering is how you can go from travelling through the air at 600mph to hovering at a standstill in a matter of seconds.
'Once you’ve flown one it’s like a drug. You’re hooked.’

'The Harrier is the greatest flying machine ever. Technology-wise, it pushed back the boundaries of science,' said Nalls (pictured in the cockpit)
'The Harrier is the greatest flying machine ever. Technology-wise, it pushed back the boundaries of science,' said Nalls (pictured in the cockpit)

It’s an expensive habit, though. Nalls has spent more than £1 million getting the plane back in the air – and its Rolls-Royce engine guzzles one gallon of fuel every six seconds.
‘I use up 50 gallons of fuel just getting from the hangar to the runway. At the beginning I was fuelling up so often the local aviation authorities got on to me wanting to know why I required so much jet fuel. When I told them it was for my Harrier, there was silence at the end of the phone.
(Courtesy Daily Mail excerpts)

About Major General Joe Anderson, USMC (Ret.), L39 and Sea Harrier Pilot.
"Joe is a native of Detroit, Michigan. After graduating from Catholic Central High School, he was nominated to attend the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, where he majored in engineering. As a Midshipman, he played varsity baseball and was proud to have graduated in the top 90% of the Class of 1968. He was commissioned a second Lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Joe’s first assignment as a Marine officer was attending The Basic School in Quantico, Virginia, where all Marine officers learn the basic infantry tactics, prior to attending flight school. Every Marine Officer is an infantry officer before becoming an aviator. Joe was selected to attend Undergraduate Pilot Training with the United States Air Force at Craig Air Force Base, Selma, Alabama. Upon receiving Air Force Silver Wings, he reported for duty to Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona, earning his U.S. Navy Wings of Gold and becoming combat qualified in the F-4 Phantom. He remains one of the very few pilots to be awarded both US Air Force and US Navy pilot wings. He then deployed to the Republic of Vietnam where he flew as pilot in command for 219 combat missions in the F-4 Phantom.

Joe’s first assignment as a Marine officer was attending The Basic School in Quantico, Virginia, where all Marine officers learn the basic infantry tactics, prior to attending flight school. Every Marine Officer is an infantry officer before becoming an aviator. Joe was selected to attend Undergraduate Pilot Training with the United States Air Force at Craig Air Force Base, Selma, Alabama. Upon receiving Air Force Silver Wings, he reported for duty to Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona, earning his U.S. Navy Wings of Gold and becoming combat qualified in the F-4 Phantom. He remains one of the very few pilots to be awarded both US Air Force and US Navy pilot wings. He then deployed to the Republic of Vietnam where he flew as pilot in command for 219 combat missions in the F-4 Phantom.

Upon his return from overseas, he was assigned to Marine Attack Squadron 231, known as "VMA-231" at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina. VMA-231, the World Famous "Ace of Spades" Squadron, is renowned as the "Oldest Squadron in the Marine Corps." It can trace its flying roots back to the Northern Bombing Group, a group of WWI Marine Corps aviators combined to form a fighting squadron in 1929 to combat Nicaraguan insurgents. For that campaign, the squadron adopted the Ace of Spades as their emblem, and that emblem has been retained ever since. VMA-231 was at one time decommissioned, but reconstituted to fly the brand-new, imported version of the Harrier, the AV-8A. Joe started his transition to the Harrier when there were NO two-seat trainer aircraft. He read the book, which was written in "Brit," and climbed in the cockpit for his first flight.

While stationed at Cherry Point, he carrier-qualified in the AV-8A "Harrier" aboard the USS Iwo Jima, LPH-2. He was later selected to attend the U.S. Navy Test Pilot School at NAS Patuxent River with over 500 total flight hours, including combat time in the F-4.

After graduation and as a newly-designated Test Pilot, Joe remained at Patuxent River and participated in the Shipboard certification of the AV-8A aboard the LHA. He also participated in the "Ski Jump" takeoff device evaluation at the 1978 Farnborough International Airshow. He then flew the Navy’s Preliminary evaluation of the YAV-8B Prototype aircraft. This prototype was a highly-modified Harrier with a much larger wing, a double row of intake doors, and large, automated flaps. These remain many of the physical characteristics of the airplane flown today by the U.S. Marine Corps as the AV-8B "Harrier II."

Upon return to the fleet, Joe commanded Marine Attack Squadron 331, Marine Air Group 13 (the 1st Night Attack Harrier Air Group) and the 1st Marine Air Wing in Japan.

Joe's experience with Harriers is legend: He flew his first Harrier in September 1973, flew his last Marine Harrier in August 2000 and FINALLY accumulated 2500 Harrier hours in 2009 flying the civilian Sea Harrier. He has flown nine, different models of the Harrier over a span of 36 years. Most of the active-duty pilots flying the Harrier in the Marine Corps were not even BORN when Joe had his first Harrier flight.

Joe reports his most exciting Harrier moment was losing his canopy after takeoff from Nashville, Tennessee in 1995. He recovered safely but reported a somewhat elevated noise level in the cockpit. The "convertible option" was never fully adopted by the Marines.

Joe has flight time in approximately 60 different type, model and series of military and civilian aircraft in addition to the "Harrier". These include the A-3, A-4, A-6, A-7, T-38, F-4, F-5, F-15, and F-18.

In addition to his B.S. degree from the Naval Academy, Joe earned a M.S. degree from the University of Southern California. His formal military education includes Air Force Flight School, U.S. Naval Test Pilot School and the National War College. He is also a member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots.

Joe retired from the Marine Corps as a Major General in 2001. He served as the Associate Director for the National Air and Space Museum, Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center. He currently serves on the Boards of Directors of several corporations.

Joe is active flying both the Sea Harrier and the L39. He has aerobatic ratings in both aircraft.
About Silver Wings Over Washington
Our Silver Wings Fraternity is comprised of a wonderful group of remarkable individuals who have pioneered, excelled and contributed to the world of aviation. We encourage members to bring friends, guests, and introduce young people to the noteworthy exploits and achievements of our distinguished members and speakers. In the past we have hosted prominent speakers who presented both contemporary and historical topics relating to aviation, space, and a variety of military accomplishments. For up to date information visit our web blog
Agenda for Thursday, September 25th, 2014
2014 Silver Wings Speakers Luncheon Serie    

           East Gate: 1700 Army Navy Drive, Arlington, VA 22202
           West Gate: 2400 South 18th Street, Arlington, VA 22204
           Parking: Complimentary Parking
Area:   Fort Richardson Room
Cost:   $36.00, paid at the entrance
Date:   THURSDAY, September 25th, 2014
1100:   Doors Open, Networking Time
1150:   Pledge of Allegiance
1155:   Blessing
1200:   Lunch served
1255:   Introduction of our Speakers
1300:   Speakers:
           MG Joe Anderson, USMC (Ret.) and Lt.Col. Art Nalls, USMC (Ret.)
1345:   Questions from the Audience
1400:   Conclusion of the 2014 September Speakers Luncheon

We need a firm count by Monday, 3pm, September 22nd, for the ANCC.  The ANCC charges for each walk-in an additional $4 per person, so save the ANCC fee and RSVP as soon as possible. Your membership dues ($25) may be remitted at the SWOWF Speakers Luncheon, or by snail mail to our Treasurer: Joan Stalk, 6103 Dominican Drive, Springfield, VA 22152.

RSVP: Ron David, e-mail: 
or with Joan Stalk, Treasurer, 703.451.4181,

This is going to be an event you will thoroughly enjoy.
Join us on Thursday, September 25th, 2014 and let's have a great turn out!

Ron David
President, Silver Wings
skype: metopower
Cell:   202.907.3241

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Take a trip down memory lane with RAdm. "Whitey" Feightner. MG Joe Anderson will moderate the presentation and highlight the daring maneuvers which will certainly keep you on the edge of your seat.

Dear Members and Friends,

Our upcoming distinguished speaker, World War II Ace, Rear Admiral E.L. "Whitey" Feightner, is truly an american icon. Having the opportunity to chat with him, hear him recount his challenges and exploits first hand and being an eye witness to his wide range of knowledge, and skill is definitely worth the experience.  

We are pleased to have MG Joe Anderson, USMC (Ret.) moderate our May Speakers Luncheon with RAdm. "Whitey" Feightner, USN (Ret.).

I am looking forward to seeing you when you join us on this unique occasion. Semper Fi, Ron

Silver Wings Over Washington
Ron David, President; RAdm. Whitey Feightner, USN (Ret.), Vice President; Joan Stalk, Treasurer; Ray Kester, CW04 USN (Ret.), Secretary
Board: MG Joe Anderson, USMC (Ret.); Col. Randy Brandt, USAF (Ret.); Col. E.P. Deatrick USAF (Ret.); Steve Craven; Debbie Gallaway; Pete King; Capt. Bud Orr, USN (Ret.); Capt. Zip Rausa, USN (Ret.); Col. Charles Stallworth USAF (Ret.)

Our mission is to provide an educational foundation that inspires, advocates, and fosters a venue for learning through aviation for the younger generation; a forum for networking among members and colleagues with outstanding speakers and camaraderie across the board. "What's Past is Prologue"

The May 2014 Silver Wings Speakers Luncheon Serie 
is scheduled for THURSDAY, MAY 22nd, 2014 
                                                 Our distinguished keynote speaker

                                 RAdm. Edward L. "Whitey" Feightner, USN (Ret.)

will address our members and guests
Topic: Remarkable Untold Sea Stories

.RADM Edward Feightner 19700715.jpeg
World War II Ace Rear Admiral E.L. "Whitey" Feightner

Rear Admiral Edward Lewis "Whitey" Feightner is a retired United States Navy officer who fought in a number of significant battles in the World War II Pacific Theater of Operations. During two combat tours, he shot down nine enemy aircraft to become a flying ace.
He was an early member of the Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron and flew the lead "solo" position. His work as a test pilot included aircraft, electronic systems, and operational tactics such as developing techniques for delivering nuclear weapons from small fighter aircraft. He commanded increasingly larger air units including VF-11 and Carrier Air Group Ten as well as training organizations that helped the Navy transition from propeller to jet aircraft. He commanded two Navy ships, served as the head of Navy Fighter Design, and was a key contributor to fighter studies that resulted in the development of jet aircraft that as of 2011 are still in active service.
Feightner was the only pilot to land the Dash-1 variant of the Vought F7U Cutlass aboard a carrier. He led VF-11 to become the first Atlantic fleet unit in which every pilot received the coveted "E" award in a single exercise. Since retiring from the Navy, Feightner has continued to promote aviation and share his experiences with others.
Early life
Feightner was born on October 14, 1919 in Lima, Ohio, a small town in the northwest part of the state, to Amos and Mary Feightner. He attended Findlay College in Findlay, Ohio and learned to fly in the Civilian Pilot Training Program (CPTP). The CPTP was a flight training program sponsored by the United States government to increase the number of civilian pilots and thereby create a pool of trained aviators from which the military could draw. By 1940, Feightner received his private pilot license. He graduated from Findlay College in 1941.

World War II service

With war approaching and because of his strong desire to fly, Feightner attempted to sign up with the United States Army Air Corps. But he faced an eight-month delay before acceptance since the Army flight program could not cope with the large influx of people. When Feightner found that the Navy would accept him immediately, he made up his mind to pursue naval aviation. On June 16, 1941, Feightner enlisted in the United States Navy Reserve and entered the Naval Aviation Cadet Training Program. He completed flight training at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas, on April 3, 1942 thereby earning his commission as an ensign and designation as a naval aviator. He finished advanced carrier training at Naval Air Station Norfolk and received orders to VF-5 aboard the USS YorktownYorktown, however, was sunk by the Japanese at the Battle of Midway before Feightner could arrive. Feightner was reassigned to VF-3 at Naval Air Station Pu'unene on Maui, Hawaii. VF-3's commanding officer was Edward "Butch" O'Hare who had recently returned from a combat tour in the Pacific as the Navy's first fighter ace. O'Hare gave Feightner the nickname "Whitey" for his inability to tan despite hours in the sun during the squadron's many spearfishing trips.

VF-10 Grim Reapers

Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat from early 1942
In October 1942, Feightner was assigned to VF-10, the Grim Reapers, aboard the USS Enterprise (CV-6) flying the Grumman F4F Wildcat. The commanding officer of VF-10 was James H. Flatley whom Feightner described as "a true leader [who] epitomizes what you think of as a squadron commander." The Enterprise left Pearl Harbor on October 16, 1942 for the South Pacific as part of Task Force King. Less than ten days later, Feightner performed his first night carrier landing after the search and attack group for which he provided cover became lost and did not return to the carrier until after dark. On October 26, 1942, during the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, Feightner shot down his first enemy aircraft—an Aichi D3A dive bomber that was attacking the Enterprise. He was also credited with a probable kill of another aircraft. Feightner was awarded an Air Medal and gold award star for his actions that day.
"You're a fighting fool, aren't you!"
J. Flately, VF-10 CO to Feightner after shooting down three planes in one day

Japanese aerial attack (dotted red line) on Chicago (yellow dot) on the morning of 30 January. Black arrows are U.S. carrier fighter aircraft.
After several weeks of repair, the Enterprise sortied to oppose an Imperial Japanese battle fleet that was threatening the Solomon Islands. The Japanese convoy included eleven transports with over seven thousand soldiers headed down the "Slot" to Guadalcanal to retake Henderson Field. On November 14, 1942, Feightner protected U.S. dive bombers and strafed enemy vessels during the strikes that destroyed seven of the troop carriers—a significant event in the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. After the attacks, VF-10 remained at Henderson Field on Guadalcanal to reinforce the 1st Marine Division and deal with the Japanese ships and troops from the remaining transports that had intentionally beached themselves. Conditions on the island were primitive and dangerous. Many of the service men came down with malaria. Japanese soldiers hid in trees and waited to ambush the Americans. Sleep was disrupted by night bombardment. Fortunately, Feightner had to endure the hazardous conditions on Guadalcanal less than a week, as VF-10 left their old aircraft at Henderson Field and returned to the Enterprise on November 25, 1942, where they received new F4Fs.
On January 30, 1943, the second day of the Battle of Rennell Island, Feightner shot down three Mitsubishi G4M "Betty" torpedo bombers in a single engagement. In this engagement, a force of twelve "Bettys" approaching the Enterprise were intercepted by VF-10 aircraft. The "Betty"s turned away from the Enterprise and went after the USS Chicago (CA-29), a heavy cruiser that had been disabled the night before. VF-10 destroyed six of the "Betty"s before they could reach the cruiser, but the remaining aircraft released their torpedoes with devastating effect—the Chicago sank within minutes. Two more of the "Bettys" were dispatched by the pursuing VF-10 Wildcats as they passed the ring of destroyers that had been protecting the cruiser. Flatley shot down another and the remaining three fell to his wingman, Feightner, who had been delayed due to a balky engine but arrived at just the right time. Feightner was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and an air medal for downing three aircraft on that day and ended his first combat tour with four confirmed kills.


Grumman F6F-3 Hellcats in tricolor camouflage, May 1943
In May 1943, Feightner received orders to VF-8 flying the Grumman F6F Hellcatat Naval Auxiliary Air Station Pungo—a satellite airfield near Naval Station Norfolk. This second squadron to be designated VF-8 was established on June 1, 1943 and led by Lt Cdr. William M. Collins Jr. who would himself become a nine-victory ace. Fighting Eight was initially assigned to the new carrierUSS Intrepid (CV-11) that that been launched just weeks prior. During theIntrepid'sea trials in the fall of 1943, Feightner performed initial takeoffs, landings, and catapult shots flying the F6F.
In March 1944, Carrier Air Wing Eight began operations from the USS Bunker Hill (CV-17). Part of the Fast Carrier Task Force TF 58 commanded by Vice Admiral Marc A. Mitscher, the Bunker Hill participated in a series of attacks against Japanese positions in the Pacific Theater of Operations. VF-8 saw their first combat during a two-day strike on Palau. On the first day of the raid, March 30, 1944, Feightner became an ace when he shot down a Mitsubishi A6M "Zeke" over the island of Peleliu. The Palau battle also marked the first combat use of the 'Berger' Gradient Pressure Suit—an air inflatable G-suit that allowed a pilot to maneuver his aircraft more aggressively without blacking out. The '"Z-suit" proved so successful that all but three of the VF-8 pilots chose to wear the equipment.

Fighter aircraft contrails mark the sky over Task Force 58 on June 19, 1944
As TF 58 followed the U.S. strategy of leapfrogging toward Japan, Feightner participated in strikes at the Yap coral atoll of Woleai helping to isolate the Japanese garrison there. At the end of April, the task force returned to Truk in the Caroline Islands. Once a major Japanese stronghold, Truk had been badly damaged during Operation Hailstone earlier that year, but the Japanese had since reinforced the island with aircraft from Rabaul. On April 29, 1944, Feightner shot down a "Zeke" over Truk raising his total to six aircraft destroyed.
In June 1944, the U.S. initiated the Mariana and Palau Islands campaign. Feightner flew during the Battle of the Philippine Sea that was better known to American pilots as the 'Great Marianas Turkey Shoot' due to the overwhelming losses inflicted upon the naval air forces of Japan. He fought in a series of actions over the next few months including the Battle of Saipan, the Battle of Guam, strikes on Okinawa, and the Battle of Tinian.
As U.S. forces pushed toward the Philippines, the fast carriers of Task Force 38 (TF 38) moved to subdue Japanese air power on the island of Formosa—known today as Taiwan. During the Aerial Battle of Taiwan–Okinawa, VF-8 destroyed thirty aircraft near Taien Airfield. Flying in this battle on October 12, 1944, Feightner shot down three "Zekes" (although at least one source states the aircraft were "Oscars") bringing his total to nine aircraft destroyed. Feightner continued to fly missions with VF-8 until the Bunker Hill returned to the United States for an overhaul in November 1944.

Fighter Instructor

Upon returning to the United States in November 1944, Feightner was assigned as a fighter instructor with VF-98 at NAS Los Alamitos in Orange CountyCalifornia, and later at Naval Air Facility (NAF) Thermal in Thermal, California. Near the end of World War II in 1945, Feightner was assigned as gunnery officer to VF-21 at NAS San Diego in California.

Victory credits

The following table summarizes Feightner's aerial victories and provides the date, number of aircraft destroyed, types of aircraft destroyed, and the battle at which the victory occurred. In total, he was assessed with 9 destroyed and 4 probables. However, another source claims two probable kills for Feightner.

Lt. Feightner with nine official victories

DateNoTypeBattle/LocationAircraft flownUnit
October 26, 19421D3A "Val"Battle of the Santa Cruz IslandsF4F WildcatVF-10
January 30, 19433G4M"Betty"Battle of Rennell IslandF4F WildcatVF-10
March 30, 19441A6M"Zeke"Raid on PeleliuF6F HellcatVF-8
April 29, 19441A6M "Zeke"Raid on TrukF6F HellcatVF-8
October 12, 19443A6M "Zeke"Aerial Battle of Taiwan–OkinawaF6F HellcatVF-8

Post-war service

Flight test

After serving for several years in staff assignments, Feightner received orders to attend the U.S. Navy Test Pilot School at NAS Patuxent River in Maryland. He graduated in July 1949 with the school's second class and served with the Flight Test Division at the Naval Air Test Center where he flew a variety of aircraft including helicopters and the Navy's largest transport, the Lockheed R6V Constitution. Feightner also tested the Grumman F8F Bearcat, the Vought F4U Corsair, and the Grumman F7F Tigercat. When Colonel Charles Lindberg came to evaluate the Tigercat, Feightner, as F7F project pilot, provided the pre-flight instruction.

Feightner landing F7U-1, No. 415, on the USS Midway in 1951
Feightner was assigned as the Navy's project pilot for the Vought F7U Cutlass, a carrier-based jet fighter-bomber with swept wings and an unusual tailless design. From July 23 to August 14, 1951, he performed carrier suitability tests of the Cutlass on board the USS Midway. Feightner survived a number of near-fatal incidents in the Cutlass. During a test using the NAS Patuxent River air field catapult, an engine exploded and caught fire on takeoff. Unable to eject at such a low altitude, Feightner made use of a low spot in the river bank to turn the aircraft and return safely to the field where firefighters extinguished the burning engine. On July 23, 1951, he performed the first (and only) carrier takeoff and landing of the Dash-1 variant on the aircraft carrier USS Midway (CV-41). Landing the Cutlass was hazardous due to the extreme nose-up attitude that restricted visibility forward and below. Feightner was unable to see the flight deck and relied on the Landing Signal Officer (LSO) to provide the indication to reduce engine power. Despite assistance from the LSO, Feightner landed short of the desired position and nearly struck the ramp. Although the fleet received the improved F7U-3, the Cutlass did not live up to its potential and remained in service less than four years.

Blue Angels

In January 1952, Feightner received orders to the U.S. Navy's flight demonstration squadron—the Blue Angels. The squadron had been directed to add the Cutlass to their performance although neither Feightner nor Blue Angels commander "Butch" Voris believed the aircraft was ready for formation flying. The F7U was the Navy's first operational aircraft fitted with a hydraulic flight control system and reliability was still poor. In the event of failure, the mechanical backup system required eleven seconds before control was restored. The solution was to fly the F7Us separately from the rest of the team thereby creating the diamond and solo roles that remain to the present day. Feightner recruited former Blue Angel Lt. Harding C. "Mac" Macknight to fly the second Cutlass.

Blue Angel's F7U-1 Cutlass in 1952
At the start of the 1952 show season, fuel control problems grounded the team's Grumman F9F Panthers leaving the Cutlasses to put on the primary demonstration between March and June. During a show at Saufley Field in Florida, Feightner experienced a total loss of hydraulics on a full afterburner takeoff and steep climb. While trying to gain enough altitude for ejection he was able to stay with the aircraft until the back up control system engaged. He clipped trees on the end of the runway, causing the left engine to flame out. With hydraulic fluid streaming back in a bright flame, he made a hard turn and got the plane back on the runway, much to the excitement of the crowd. Feightner and Macknight performed maneuvers that showed off the best attributes of the F7U. The two solos would approach each other from opposite ends of the runway and, after passing each other, would roll the aircraft, deploy speed brakes, and light afterburners. In Feightner's opinion, "There just is not an airplane like it anywhere."
Maintenance issues and additional near-fatal accidents put an end to Blue Angel Cutlass performances. While traveling to an airshow at Naval Air Station Glenview in Chicago, Illinois, both F7U's experienced in-flight emergencies. One of Feightner's engine's failed shortly after takeoff, but before he could land, Macknight's right engine caught fire and the left engine quit soon after. Although Feightner called for him to eject, Macknight stayed with the burning aircraft and landed at Glenview. With the runway closed, Feightner was redirected to make his landing at Chicago's former Orchard Airpark, which had been expanded and renamed O'Hare Airport. The runway had just been completed and was covered with peach baskets to prevent aircraft from landing until it was opened. Feightner was told to ignore the baskets and land on the new runway. As a result, Feightner's F7U became the first aircraft to land on the new runway at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. After yet another in-flight emergency resulted in a forced landing at Naval Air Station Memphis, the F7Us were given to the station's training center.

Return to testing

In September 1952, Feightner returned to flight test as the development officer for Air Development Squadron Three (VX-3). VX-3 was located at NAS Atlantic CityNew Jersey, and was responsible for testing fighter aircraft, systems, and munitions. In this new role, he tested aircraft systems (rather than the airplanes themselves) and determined what tactics would most effectively utilize those systems.
On December 3, 1953, Feightner participated in the first public demonstration of the steam catapult chosen to launch heavy jet aircraft from the short decks of aircraft carriers. Flying a propeller-driven AD Skyraider at the Naval Air Material Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Feightner described the steam-powered launch as "much better for the pilot" due to the relatively gentle start that eliminated the shock of other catapult techniques.
Feightner contributed to the development of weapon delivery tactics for the McDonnell F2H Banshee. The F2H-2B was modified for the attack role and had strengthened wings and pylons to accommodate a heavy weapon such as the Mark 7 or Mark 8 nuclear bomb. The F2H-2B testing on which Feightner worked included the longest non-stop, round trip flight from a carrier with weapon delivery at the midpoint of the flight—2,873 miles. He also participated in an 18 hour, low-level, non-stop, round-trip flight from a carrier with weapon delivery in a Douglas AD-3 Skyraider.

Aviation commands

VF-11 Red Rippers

VF-11 pilots receive "E" award for aerial bombing. Feightner is kneeling at left
In January 1955, Feightner assumed command of VF-11, The Red Rippers, at Naval Air Station Cecil Field. Flying the McDonnell F2H-4 Banshee, he led VF-11 to top honors in toss bombing during the annual fleet competition in 1956. All fourteen VF-11 pilots received the Navy's Battle Effectiveness Award for precision accuracy with this unusual and difficult technique used to deliver nuclear weapons. With this award, VF-11 became the first Atlantic fleet unit to have all of its pilots receive an "E" in the same exercise.
In August 1956, VF-11 embarked as part of Carrier Air Group Ten on the USS Coral Sea (CV-43) and deployed to the Mediterranean. Just two months into the cruise, the Suez Crisis provided tense moments for all personnel as the carrier prepared for battle and to evacuate American citizens that might be caught in the conflict.
In February 1957, Feightner was assigned as officer in charge of the Jet Transitional Training Unit (JTTU) at Naval Air Station Olathe in Gardner, Kansas. Established on April 4, 1955, the mission of the JTTU was to train pilots of propeller-driven aircraft to operate jets and to provide refresher training for aviators transferring from shore to sea duty.

Carrier Air Group Ten

Feightner received orders in February 1959 to relieve the air wing commander of Carrier Air Group Ten (CVG-10) on the USS Forrestal (CV-59) that was deployed in the Mediterranean. He continued to serve as CAG-10 when the air wing embarked on the USS Essex (CV-9) the following month and returned to the "Med" for another tour. From March to July 1960, Feightner served on the staff of Carrier Air Group Four. In July 1960, he was selected to attend the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island and graduated in 1961.

Fighter Design

In July 1961, Feightner was assigned as the project officer for the F4H-1 Phantom II at the Bureau of Naval Weapons in Washington, D.C. A year later, he was selected as the head of Navy Fighter Design where he supervised and directed all Navy fighter project officers. From August 1963 to November 1964, Feightner served as operations officer to the Commander of Carrier Division Three aboard the USS Enterprise.

Senior Leader

USS Chikaskia change of command in 1964
From 1964 to 1967, Feightner served as captain of two U.S. Navy ships—the fleet oiler USS Chikaskia (AO-54) and the amphibious assault ship USS Okinawa (LPH-3)Chikaskia deployed to the Mediterranean in 1965 and provided underway replenishment to many ships including the USS Forrestal (CVA-59) and USS Shangri-La (CV-38)After learning the techniques of amphibious operations at the Naval Amphibious Warfare School at Little Creek, Virginia, Feightner commanded Okinawa during a tour of the Caribbean in 1966. At the conclusion of this deployment in 1967, he brought Okinawa to Naval Base San Diego, where she became part of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.
Feightner attended the Defense Weapons Systems Management course at the Air Force Institute of TechnologyWright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio in March 1967, and in June 1967 was assigned to the office of the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) for Air in the Pentagon. In this role, Feightner was responsible for supervising and coordinating the efforts of CNO air warfare program officers. Between 1969 and 1970, he also served as the director of Naval Aviation Weapons Systems Analysis Group. In June 1970, Feightner was selected for promotion from captain to the two-star rank of rear admiral.
In September 1970, Feightner served his final tour with the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) where he participated in several fighter studies that resulted in the development of the Grumman F-14 Tomcat and McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet. He also served as assistant commander for Logistics/Fleet Support responsible for incorporating test program modifications into production aircraft, ensuring the fleet obtained maximum effectiveness of air assets, and supporting the aircraft throughout their operational life. On May 20, 1972, former VF-11 skipper Feightner delivered introductory remarks at the Red Rippers change of command ceremony commemorating 45 years as the Navy's oldest continuous fighter squadron. After 33 years of service, Feightner retired from active duty on July 1, 1974 with 8,610 flight hours and 874 carrier landings.

Later years

Feightner remained active in aviation after his retirement from the Navy. He shared his flight experiences at many events including:
  • Battle of Midway Commemoration—A keynote speech held on June 4, 2004 at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove to pay tribute to one of the most decisive sea battles in world history.
  • A Virtual Flight Down Memory Lane—A luncheon speech with Silver Wings Over Washington where Feightner discussed flying the F4U Corsair. This event was held on March 22, 2007.
  • A Conversation with Whitey Feightner—A speech at the National Air and Space Museum where Feightner shared the experiences of his Navy career. The event was held on November 16, 2007 and was one of the Donald D. Engen Lecture and Flight Jacket Night lectures held that year at the museum.
  • Memoirs from an Aviator's Logbook—A speech at the National Air and Space Museum where Feightner recounted his experiences as a fighter pilot, an early Blue Angel, and a Navy test pilot. The event was held on May 24, 2011 and was the Charles A. Lindbergh Memorial lecture held that year at the museum.
  • 100 years of U.S. Naval Aviation—A discussion where Feightner and fellow panelists RADM George M. "Skip" Furlong, Jr., Mr. Hill Goodspeed, Capt. Robert "Hoot" Gibson, Capt. Kenneth Wallace, and RADM Patrick McGrath discussed the past, present, and future of naval aviation. The panel was part of the National Aviation Hall of Fame's presentation of the 2011 Milton Caniff "Spirit of Flight" Award to the Blue Angels on July 15, 2011. The Milton Caniff "Spirit of Flight" award recognizes exceptional contributions to the advancement of flight.
Feightner served as chairman of the board of directors of the Early and Pioneer Naval Aviators Association from 2004 to 2006. Better known as the "Golden Eagles," the association was founded in 1956 to provide a living memorial to early naval aviators. Feightner remains an emeritus member of the organization.
As of 2011, Feightner was a member of the honorary board of trustees of the International Midway Memorial Foundation dedicated to honoring and preserving the memory and values of the Battle of Midway. He also served as president of FMS, Inc., an energy management controls company in Washington, DC. Since 2005, Feightner has been vice president of Silver Wings Over Washington, an aviation-related association in the Washington, D.C. area.



Feightner was awarded the following decorations for his military service.
Decoration Description
United States Naval Aviator
Legion of Merit with one bronze starDistinguished Flying Cross
with three bronze stars
Air Medal with two silver and one bronze starCommendation MedalCombat Action Ribbon
Presidential Unit Citation with three bronze starsChina Service MedalAmerican Defense Service Medal
American Campaign MedalAsiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with three bronze starsWorld War II Victory Medal
Navy Occupation Service MedalNational Defense Service Medal with one bronze starPhilippine Liberation Medal with one bronze star

Distinguished Flying Cross citation (first of four)

For heroism and extraordinary achievement in aerial flight as Pilot of a Fighter Plane in Fighting Squadron TEN, attached to the U.S.S. ENTERPRISE, during action against enemy Japanese forces in the Solomon Islands-Area on January 30, 1943. Participating in a combat patrol which engaged a group of twelve heavily armed, twin-engined Japanese torpedo bombers in the vicinity of Rennel Island, Lieutenant (then Ensign) Feightner pressed home his attack and personally shot down three of the hostile aircraft, despite heavy antiaircraft fire and powerful enemy aerial opposition. His courage, skill and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Other honors 

On October 7, 1998, Feightner was inducted into the Carrier Aviation Test Pilot Hall of Honor. He is also an Honorary Fellow of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots. For his work on the International Midway Memorial Foundation, Feightner was made an honorary member of the United States Naval Academy (USNA) class of 1942. The class of '42 had 79 members at the Battle of Midway—more than any other Naval Academy class. (Courtesy  Wikipedia)

Rear Admiral Edward L. Feightner (’41) was honored as a 2013 Distinguished Alumnus May 10, 2014, in Arlington, Va., where he was recognized for his extraordinary military career as a World War II fighter ace, test pilot, aviation innovator and commander. The University of Findlay’s President Katherine Fell, Ph.D., invited his family, colleagues and retired Army and Navy pilots to a luncheon and ceremony to honor Rear Adm. Feightner as a Distinguished Alumnus of The University of Findlay. The luncheon and ceremony took place at the Army Navy Country Club.

(Courtesy University of Findlay)
The Silver Wings Fraternity is comprised of a wonderful group of remarkable individuals who have pioneered, excelled and contributed to the world of aviation. We encourage members to bring friends, guests, and introduce young people to the noteworthy exploits and achievements of our distinguished members and speakers. In the past we have hosted prominent speakers who presented both contemporary and historical topics relating to aviation, space, and a variety of military accomplishments. For up to date information visit our web blog
Agenda for Thursday, May 22nd, 2014
2014 Silver Wings Speakers Luncheon Serie    

            East Gate: 1700 Army Navy Drive, Arlington, VA 22202
            West Gate: 2400 South 18th Street, Arlington, VA 22204
            Parking: Complimentary Parking
Area:   Fort Richardson Room
Cost:   $33.00, paid at the entrance
Date:   THURSDAY, MAY 22nd, 2014
1100:   Doors Open, Networking Time
1150:   Pledge of Allegiance
1155:   Blessing
1200:   Lunch served
1250:   Moderator: MG Joe Anderson, USMC (Ret.)
1255:   Introduction of our Speaker
1300:   Speaker: RAdm. E.L. "Whitey" Feightner, USN (Ret.)
1345:   Questions from the Audience
1400:   Conclusion of the May Speakers Luncheon 

We need a firm count by Monday, 3pm, May 19th, for the ANCC.  The ANCC charges for each walk-in an additional $4 per person, so save the ANCC fee and RSVP as soon as possible. Your membership dues ($25) may be remitted at the SWOWF Speakers Luncheon, or by snail mail to our Treasurer: Joan Stalk, 6103 Dominican Drive, Springfield, VA 22152. 

RSVP with: Ron David, 202.333.8707, or e-mail:
                Joan Stalk, Treasurer,

Please post on your calendar the following 2014 Speakers Luncheon Serie events at the ANCC: January 23rd; March 26th; May 22nd; July 31st; September 25th; and November 20th, 2014.

Join us on Thursday, MAY 22nd, 2014 and let's have a great turn out! 


Ron David
President, Silver Wings
skype: metopower
WDC: 202.333.8707
Cell: 202.425.0358