Edward Feightner, Test Pilot and World War II Ace, Dies at 100

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Rear Adm. Edward L. Feightner, a Navy air ace of Planet War II who shot down nine Japanese planes although flying propeller-pushed fighters, then performed a prominent job in the testing and growth of postwar Navy jets, died on Wednesday in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. He was 100.

His dying, at a senior living facility, was verified by his nephew Jim McBride, with whom he had been living in Coeur d’Alene.

In his 34 a long time of Navy support, as a fight pilot in the Pacific, an teacher and a check pilot, Admiral Feightner flew more than 100 varieties of planes.

While he was a junior Navy officer, he 2 times shot down three Japanese planes on a one day and took aspect in battles in the Solomon Islands, the Caroline Islands, the Marianas and the Philippines.

In the late 1940s, he became one particular of the early check pilots at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland. He flew or analyzed the units for fighters, transports, helicopters and just about any other form of plane envisioned by the Navy.

He grew to become the head of the Navy’s fighter design software and was two times awarded the Legion of Benefit for his testing and administrative pursuits. He gained four Distinguished Flying Crosses for his fight exploits.

In the early 1950s, Admiral Feightner was a member of the Navy’s Blue Angels, whose close-formation traveling and acrobatics thrilled crowds at air demonstrates.

Edward Lewis Feightner was born in Lima, Ohio, on Oct. 14, 1919, just one of four youngsters of Amos Feightner, a resource and die maker for a steam locomotive firm, and Mary (Roth) Feightner, a homemaker.

Edward grew up in nearby Elida, the place his prolonged family members experienced dairy farms. Whilst he was attending Findlay School (now the University of Findlay) in Ohio in the late 1930s, a pilot for an Ohio oil business who ran a nearby airport gave him a trip in a Ford Tri-Motor, a well-liked passenger and transport airplane of the time, and allow him choose the controls for a number of hrs.

Fascinated by flight, he joined the civilian pilot coaching system, which was generating a pool of prospective armed service pilots as war loomed. He obtained his personal pilot’s license in 1940.

Just one working day in April 1941, he was at the airport close to the Findlay campus with a fellow flight college student when he was amazed by a scene that bought him on naval aviation.

“I had previously signed up for the Army Air Corps, and they had a tiny wait around just before we could go in,” Admiral Feightner recalled in an job interview for the Virginia Military services Institute in 2005. “One day an plane landed at the airport and a guy walked into the hangar putting on Navy whites, and a yellow convertible arrives screeching close to the hangar and a blonde jumps out and presents him a huge smooch, and off they went.”

The youthful men’s flight teacher, viewing how captivated they had been, proposed that they examine out a Navy air teaching centre in Michigan.

“We went up there and observed out what the Navy things was all about and they reported, ‘Hey, we’ll take you this afternoon,’” Admiral Feightner stated. “So we signed up.”

He entered active responsibility soon after graduating from Findlay in 1941, acquired his wings in April 1942 and was assigned to a squadron dependent in Hawaii and commanded by the fighter pilot Butch O’Hare, a Medal of Honor recipient and a single of America’s early war heroes. Lieutenant Commander O’Hare nicknamed him Whitey as a minimal joke, since he turned deep pink alternatively of tanning in the Hawaiian sunlight. He was recognised as Whitey Feightner thereafter.

(Butch O’Hare was killed in action in 1943. Chicago’s international airport is named for him.)

Admiral Feightner was credited with his first “kill” when he shot down a Japanese dive bomber off the Santa Cruz Islands in October 1942. He downed a few torpedo bombers off Rennell Island on Jan. 30, 1943, and turned an ace (a pilot with at minimum 5 kills) when he shot down a Zero fighter off the Palau island chain in March 1944.

He shot down a further Zero off Truk in April 1944 and downed three Zeros off Formosa (now Taiwan) on Oct. 12, 1944.

He was promoted to rear admiral in 1970 and retired 4 a long time later on, becoming a corporate advisor to the Navy.

His wife, Violet (Volz) Feightner, died in 2015. They experienced no kids. His three sisters died before him.

Admiral Feightner experienced lots of shut calls (even though never ever a crash) each in combat and as a exam pilot. In a single, he arrived beneath fireplace on a reconnaissance struggle above the Mariana Islands in June 1944, returning to his provider with far more than 170 shrapnel holes in his Hellcat fighter.

In a different, in 1951, whilst testing a Cutlass fighter, he designed a really hard landing on the deck of the provider Halfway off the Virginia coastline, causing the fuselage to crack just at the rear of the cockpit.

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