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.


 
 

 
Courtesy Photo

Luke 1 holds first commander’s call

Courtesy Photo Brig. Gen. Scott Pleus, 56th Fighter Wing commander, begins his first commander’s call at Luke Air Force Base Monday. Pleus took command of the fighter wing June 20. Brig. Gen Scott Pleus, 56th Fighter Wing com...
 
 

Balance, key to successful AF life

I believe proper balance is the key to a successful life in the Air Force. Over the years I’ve come to realize that it takes a concentrated effort to maintain balance between a professional life as an Air Force member and personal or family life. Both require constant learning, adjustments, development and attention. It’s easy...
 
 

Avoid claustrophobic career

I have heard many times that education is the great equalizer. The Air Force takes in people of all races, cultures and backgrounds and unifies them under simple beliefs and values. The enlisted force structure serves as the common language for force development, and education plays a major role. We all know education creates opportunity,...
 

 
James Hensley

No one flies until flight med gives OK

James Hensley Airman 1st Class Shawn Martinez, 56th Aerospace Medicine Squadron flight medicine technician, checks over the ambulance Aug. 19 with Staff Sgt. Jovanny Reyes, 56th AMDS medical technician, at Luke Air Force Base. ...
 
 

News Briefs August 29, 2014

Gate hours change The South Gate Visitor Registration Center hours have changed. They are 6 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Effective Tuesday, the North Gate is open inbound and outbound 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Also on Tuesday, the Kachina Gate will open inbound and outbound 6 a.m. to 10...
 
 

THUNDERBOLT OF THE WEEK

Senior Airman Brian Comia 56th Force Support Squadron Services journeyman Hometown: San Lorenzo, California Years in service: Three Family: Wife, Phoebe; daughters, Sophia and Isabella Inspirations: My family Goals: My short-term goal is to make staff sergeant next year Greatest feat: Becoming a U.S. citizen and having the pleasure and honor of serving this country...
 




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