Air Force

September 27, 2013

Capt. Pete Fernandez: Hispanic-American Ace

Capt. Pete Fernandez

Son of the chief radio operator for Pan American World Airways, Capt. Manuel “Pete” Fernandez grew up immersed in aviation and earned his private pilot’s license at 15. He joined the Army Air Corps fresh out of high school in 1943 as a private, and through sheer determination and talent, quickly became one of the best instructor pilots at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.

Although Fernandez joined the military at the height of WWII, it wasn’t until the Korean War about a decade later that he finally saw combat. From September 1952 to May 1953, Fernandez flew 124 combat missions in Korea.

In only nine months, he downed 14.5 MiG-15 fighter jets, 15 aircraft and became the No. 3 Ace of the Korean War. Although he was the No. 1 Ace when he left Korea, Fernandez’s former student, Capt. Joseph McConnell, surpassed him and reached 16 kills within 5 days of his departure from Korea.

In 1956 Fernandez earned the Bendix Trophy for setting a record with an average speed of 666.661 mph flying an F-100C Super Sabre from George AFB, Calif., to Tinker AFB, Okla. During this race, Fernandez had to fly 1,118 miles with no refueling. He accomplished this feat in two hours, with less than 2 minutes of gas to spare when he crossed the finish line.

When he retired from the Air Force, Fernandez continued to serve by flying dangerous missions for the Central Intelligence Agency and later for the South Florida Drug Interdiction Task Force. With his aerial skills and bravery, as well as the help of his Hispanic origins and language skills, Fernandez pulled off top secret missions in Latin America and provided critical intelligence on the Colombian drug trade.

On October 18, 1980, Fernandez died in a plane crash while executing a drug mission. Fernandez’s fearlessness, enthusiasm and aerial prowess set him apart from his peers throughout his aeronautical career making him a great Hispanic-American hero.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Pg-1-photo

Chief of staff visits Luke

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III and his wife, Betty, spent time meeting with Airmen and leadership Monday at Luke Air Force Base. Welsh highlighted Airman health, wellness and quality of life activities. He also...
 
 

Mentoring fosters dreams, strengthens us

A few days ago while reading an online commander’s call, I came across an article dated Dec. 31, 2014, stating President Obama proclaimed the month of January 2015 National Mentoring Month. Although this topic is thoroughly discussed in our Air Force today, I felt compelled to write on its importance all the same. In a...
 
 

Have you joined the Air Force yet?

I enlisted into the Air Force in February of 1997. However, I didn’t join the Air Force until March of 1999. No, I’m not talking about the Delayed Enlistment Program. There was no doubt that after high school I would attend college. However, not having applied for any scholarships and realizing that I didn’t have...
 

 
Courtesy photo

Prevention training goes face-to-face

Courtesy photo Maj. Jennifer Tomlinson, Air Education and Training Command Medical Readiness Division deputy chief, serves as facilitator during the AETC Medical Services and Training directorate annual Air Force Suicide Preven...
 
 
Senior Airman
JAMES HENSLEY

Thunderbolt looks to future

Senior AirmanJAMES HENSLEY Staff Sgt. Maddie Baker, 56th Dental Squadron acting commander secretary was an Air Force Honor Guard member prior to crossing over to the dental field. As the commander’s secretary, she plays a piv...
 
 

Tuskegee Airmen commemorated

The Archer-Ragsdale Arizona Chapter of Tuskegee Airman Inc. celebrated the 2nd Annual Tuskegee Airman Commemoration Day with a wreath ceremony Wednesday at the Tuskegee Airmen Memorial Air Park. The Tuskegee Airmen Commemoration Day is the result of legislation signed into law by former Arizona Governor Janice Brewer in 2013 and is the first such law...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin