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.


 
 

 
Senior Airmen Grace Lee

Thunderbolts celebrate wingman day

Senior Airmen Grace Lee Col. Jeremy Sloane, 56th Fighter Wing vice commander, shoots a basket Nov. 7 in the Luke Air Force Base Bryant Fitness Center. Luke commanders went up against the Phoenix Banner Wheelchair Suns basketbal...
 
 

AF needs Airmen to maintain identity

Some of us may remember playing the pool game “Marco-Polo.” Some of us may still use this game to entertain our children at the pool today. One player closes his or her eyes and repeatedly shouts out “Marco” while the other players tread water and respond “Polo.” All the while, they attempt to shift quickly...
 
 

New evaluation system calls for accountability

It seems that everyone is overly concerned with the new evaluation system the Air Force is releasing. We should ask ourselves if it is really that scary to have an assessment which fits each of us in a more realistic way. This new system is going to hurt a lot of egos when they are...
 

 
Senior Airman 
Devante Williams

Luke conducts CBRNE exercise

Senior AirmanDevante Williams Members of the 56th Medical Group and Southwest Med Evac air ambulance team members prepare to air evacuate a simulated victim during the exercise Nov. 5 at Luke Air Force Base. The exercise was co...
 
 

News Briefs Nov, 14, 2014

Kachina Gate closure The Kachina Gate will be closed to inbound traffic Dec. 8 through 19 for gas valve repair. Outbound traffic will not be affected. For more information, call 623-856-7051. Scholarships The Air Force Aid Society is offering scholarships to dependent children of active duty, Title 10 Reserve, Title 32 AGR, retired, retired Reserve...
 
 

THUNDERBOLT OF THE WEEK

Staff Sgt. Dustin Rysavy-Hollis 56th Component Maintenance Squadron Aircrew Egress Systems Journeyman Home town: Apopka, Florida Years in service: Five Family: Father, Tim Hollis and mom, Roxann Rysavy Previous assignments: Royal Air Force Lakenheath, United Kingdom Inspirations: My father is a huge inspiration; he works hard for what he gets Greatest feat: Performed a recovery...
 




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