Whitey is the first complete biography of one of the last surviving World War II U.S. Navy aces, and one of the Navy’s most respected officers of any period. Following a typical American, mid-western boyhood, Whitey Feightner was in the vanguard of the huge group of young men thrust into World War II. Upon receiving his commission and his gold wings, he was assigned to a fighter squadron in the Pacific and soon found himself flying with the likes of Jimmy Flatley and Butch O’Hare, two leaders who imparted their own brand of flying skill and leadership to the young ensign. He flew through many of the war’s most hectic and dangerous campaigns, such as Guadalcanal and the Marianas, gaining nine official kills. There were times he should not have returned from a mission, but his own skill and positive outlook helped him make it through all the dangers.
After the war, Whitey became a member of the Regular Navy and was assigned to several of the Navy’s most secret and action-filled projects at Patuxent River, Maryland. He flew and helped develop legendary fighters like the F7U Cutlass, F9F Banshee, and Cougar and the attack aircraft AD Skyraider as they joined the fleet, and was one of only two men who flew the radical F7U Cutlass in Blue Angels colors.
Returning to the fleet in command of a squadron, and later of an air group, he continued to develop fighter tactics. In between tours at sea, he served in the Pentagon dealing with all the personalities and political turmoil of the time while trying to bring naval aviation into the future. Working with such luminaries as Hyman Rickover and Elmo Zumwalt was not for the feint-hearted, and even Whitey did not come away unscathed. Yet, through it all, he retained the affable demeanor that characterized this rare and highly skilled naval aviator. His life story could serve as a model for any young aviator to follow.