The Story of Rear Admiral E. L. Feightner, A Navy Fighter Ace
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Published:November 15, 2014
By Peter B. Mersky (Author)

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.

List Price: $39.95
Member Price: $31.96
Product Details
  • Hardback : 224 pages
  • Illustrations: 36 b/w photos; 3 maps
  • Publisher: Naval Institute Press (November 15, 2014)
  • ISBN-10: 1612517919
  • ISBN-13: 9781612517919
  • Product Dimensions: 6.125 X 9.25 in
  • Shipping Weight: 17.42 oz
  • Whitey is a fascinating book for readers interested in learning about a driving force in the development of Navy fighter aviation and the Pacific theater of aerial warfare."—Air & Space Power Journal
  • “This book is a colorful, action-oriented, and instructive read. I gained a clear picture of Feightner’s studious, steady personality and quiet but effective leadership characteristics and recommend it especially for those aspiring to leadership positions.”—Air Power History
  • “This fine tribute details how E.L. “Whitey” Feightner distinguished himself as a fighter pilot in the early days of World War II and went on to become an ace as the fleet pushed the Japanese across the Pacific. After the war, as a test pilot, he was influential in the development and deployment of the Navy’s second generation of jet fighters, and commanded a squadron, an air group and an amphibious assault ship during the Cold War.”—Seapower
  • Whitey traces the varied career of noted Naval Aviator E.L. ‘Whitey’ Feightner who served from the early days of World War II until the post-Vietnam era. It is an excellent read for those interested in Naval Aviation and what it was like to fly a wide range of aircraft in operational and test environments, as well as tracing the career path of a noted Naval Aviator. Peter Mersky did an excellent job of weaving together an exciting history, biography and a multitude of interesting facts into his 16th book.”—The Hook
  • “A handful of inset black-and-white photographs, notes, a bibliography, and an index round out this multifaceted portrayal of a loyal soldier, capable leader, and death-defying aviator. Highly recommended!”—The Midwest Book Review

  • “In Whitey, Peter Mersky traces the history of naval aviation during one of its most important periods, through the eyes of one of its most important players. Rear Adm. ‘Whitey’ Feightner’s contributions as a World War II ace, test pilot, tactical leader, and designer of the current fighter force have had a dramatic influence on the success of naval aviation today.”—Gen. J. R. Dailey, USMC (Ret.), former assistant commandant of the Marine Corps
  • “The World War II generation has been dubbed ‘the greatest,’ and while we may argue the merits of that claim, certainly the greatest war produced the greatest aviators. They went from 90-knot biplanes to Mach 2 jets—a record never to be matched—and they are well represented by Whitey Feightner. . . . In carrier flying parlance: an underlined OK Three!”—Barrett Tillman, author of Enterprise: America's Fightingest Ship and the Men Who Helped Win World War II
  • “There is no naval aviator more accomplished and colorful than Rear Adm. E. L. ‘Whitey’ Feightner. He became a World War II ace in the hazardous skies of Guadalcanal and the Marianas, mentored by the legendary Butch O’Hare, and went on to an illustrious career flying and testing Navy aircraft. . . . Feightner is a one-of-a-kind hero.”—CAPT. ROSARIO “ZIP” M. RAUSA, USNR (RET.), editor, Wings of Gold

  • “Rear Admiral Feightner’s amazing career spanning the tumultuous years from 1941 to 1974 serves as a worthy backdrop to most of the truly important events that shaped the modern-day U.S. Navy. That he lived to later describe innumerable close calls in combat, flight testing, and early carrier operations is nothing short of remarkable.”—COL. ROBERT HICKERSON, USMC (RET.), editor, Journal of the A-4 Skyhawk Association

    “One of the last of the living aces of World War II, Rear Adm. Edward L. ‘Whitey’ Feightner personifies the realization of the American dream, from youthful aspiration to the completion of a heroic and productive naval career. . . . A worthwhile, informative, and inspiring read.”—COL. D. J. “DEEJ” KIELY, USMC (RET.), senior editor, Naval Aviation Museum Foundation

Peter Mersky worked in the Washington, DC area as an artist for a government agency for 13 years. He then moved to Norfolk, VA, and worked as assistant editor and editor of Approach, the Navy and Marine Corps aviation safety magazine, for 16 years. He has been the book review editor for Naval Aviation News, the Navy’s oldest periodical, since 1982, having reviewed more than 700 books in his regular column. His reviews also appear regularly in The Hook, Wings of Gold, and several commercial magazines.

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