- ISBN/SKU: 9781612517919
- Binding: Hardcover & eBook
- Number of Pages: 224
- Subject: Biography
- Date Available: November 2014
Your tax-deductible gift to the Naval Institute Press underwrites worthy books that might not otherwise be published.
“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
"The book is a fine history of the U.S. Navy that people who have even a simple curiosity of the subject will gain a better understanding of the subject, as well as an appreciation of a great aviator and his incredible conflicts with its bureaucracy and its officers that made such great decisions."—ICARE Magazine (France)
“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 recommend!”—The Midwest Book Review
“This new biography tells his story well. Whitey worked with several famous Navy personalities, including O’Hare, Flatley, Rickover and Zumwalt, often involved with major campaigns and programs. The book features 36 photos that display Whitey’s strong family ties as well as the aircraft he flew and the ships he commanded.”—Wings of Gold
“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
“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
“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
“I am glad to be able to recommend Peter Mersky’s book on the life of Whitey Feightner, one of the Navy’s most experienced and legendary fighter pilots. This book gives you a rare view into that life, especially Whitey’s many experiences as a test pilot during a period when some of the new jet airplanes needed a lot of work. . . . I think you’ll find this an interesting read.”—John Glenn Jr., former Marine Corps aviator, astronaut, and United States senator
“Whitey perfectly captures the archetypal but unique World War II naval aviator, fighter ace, and non-academy flag officer in the person of Whitey Feightner. From Midwest middle-class origins he joined the Navy to fly, and that he did: nine Japanese kills, test pilot, and driving force for ever better fighters in a career spanning Pearl Harbor through Vietnam. It is an inspirational and exciting read.”—John F. Lehman Jr., Secretary of the Navy, 1981?87
“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
“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
* * * * * * * * * *
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.
Peter B. Mersky graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1967 and was commissioned through the Navy’s Aviation Officer Candidate School in 1968. He served in various assignments on active duty and in the Navy Reserve, retiring as a commander in 1992. He is the long-time book review editor for Naval Aviation News and his reviews also appear regularly in The Hook, Approach, and Wings of Gold. A resident of Alexandria, Virginia, he has written more than a dozen books, including U.S. Marine Corps Aviation Since 1912: 4th Edition.