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Edward Feightner (1919–2020), World War II flying ace and Blue Angels pilot

by Linnea Crowther

Edward “Whitey” Feightner was a U.S. Navy officer who was a flying ace in World War II, with nine enemy aircraft shot down. He was also a test pilot, and he flew with the Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron.

A life in aviation

Feightner trained as a pilot before the U.S. ever entered World War II, taking lessons through the Civilian Pilot Training Program and receiving his license in 1940. When U.S. pilots were needed after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Feightner was ready, having joined the U.S. Navy in 1941 when the U.S. Army Air Force had too long of a wait for new recruits. A combat pilot, he served in the Pacific, shooting down nine Japanese aircraft – including three shot down in a single day.

After the war, Feightner remaining in the Navy, serving as a test pilot for years. In 1952, Feightner was assigned to fly with the Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron in its early days, flying in the lead solo position. Before his retirement from the Navy in 1974, Feightner rose to rear admiral. In later years, Feightner was a leader of the American Fighter Aces Association. Honors awarded to Feightner include four Distinguished Flying Crosses and the Congressional Gold Medal.

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Feighter on what makes a good fighter pilot

“If you can’t stay calm and focused in a crisis, you have no business being a fighter pilot. It’s a matter of life and death, not only for you but for those you’re defending. ” —from a 2015 interview with Investor’s Business Daily

What people said about him

Full obituary: The New York Times

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