U. S. Navy Oral History. Edward L. Feightner Interview
Admiral Edward L. Feightner enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve in 1941 and was appointed Aviation Cadet shortly thereafter. Designated a Naval Aviator in 1942, he was commissioned Ensign from that date and subsequently progressed in rank to that of Rear Admiral, USN, to date from February 1, 1971, having transferred from the U.S. Naval Reserve to the U.S. Navy in 1946. Upon completion of flight training at the Naval Air Station, Corpus Christi, Texas, he was assigned to Fighting Squadron TEN, and served for a year a Assistant Engineering Officer of that squadron which operated in the Pacific War Area while based on the USS Enterprise and later the USS Bunker Hill. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for "heroism and extraordinary achievement…during action against enemy Japanese forces in the Solomon Islands Area on January 30, 1943…" and an Air Medal and Gold Star in lieu of the second similar award in the Battle of Santa Cruz Island, October 26, 1942, and in the vicinity of Palau and Woleai Islands, March 30, 1944, respectively. From May 1943 until November 1944, he served as Engineering Officer of Fighting Squadron EIGHT, based on the USS Bunker Hill. From November 1944 to November 1946, he had successive duty as Engineering and Gunnery Officer of Fighting Squadrons NINETY-EIGHT and TWENTY-ONE. Following transfer to the regular Navy, he served as Aide and Flag Lieutenant on the Staff of Commander Carrier Division THREE (November 1946-December 1947) and similarly on the Staff of Commander Carrier Division TWO (January to September 1948). In November 1941, he was assigned to the Naval Air Test Center, Patuxent River, Maryland, where he served as a Student Test Pilot until July 1949 and as Project Pilot from that time until December 1951. During the next nine months he was a member of the Flight Exhibition Team "Blue Angels" at the Naval Air Station, Corpus Christi, Texas, after which, from September 1952 – December 1954, he served as Development Officer of Experimental Squadron THREE. From January 1955 to February 1957, he served as Commanding Officer of Fighter Squadron ELEVEN, then became Officer in Charge of the Jet Transitional Training Unit, Olathe, Kansas. He has also served the United States Navy as F-4 Program Manager (1960-61), supervised and directed efforts of all Navy Fighter Project Officers (January 1961-July 1963), Directly supervised and coordinated efforts of CNO Air Warfare Program Officers (July 1967 – July 1970), and directly supervised all Naval Aviation Programs and Program Managers in Naval Air Systems Command (July 1972 – July 1974). He served as Director of Naval Aviation Weapons Systems Analysis Group (1969-70) and also headed several Naval Aviation Tactical Air and Fighter Studies from 1968 through 1974 leading to development and procurement of F-14 and forthcoming Navy Strike Fighter (VFAX). As Deputy Director of Naval Aviation Plans and Requirements Division, he directly supervised and coordinated all Naval Aviation Requirements for new development and changes to existing inventories. In this capacity he also proposed recommendations for size, structure and employment of all Naval Aviation forces. Rear Admiral Feightner also monitored and processed all Advanced Requirements (SOR’s) and as Development officer in Air Development Squadron Three was directly responsible for developing new tactics for more efficient and proper utilization of new aircraft and equipment prior to Fleet Introduction. He served as a project experimental Test Pilot in the Flight Test Division Naval Air Test Center on a wide variety of aircraft. He has over twenty years of experience in Command of squadrons, airwings, ships, training units and major staffs. This interview covers his experiences throughout his career, including his service in WWII and as a test pilot and member of the "Blue Angels."
Service Branch: U.S. Army
Areas/Topics/Events: World War II; test pilot; "Blue Angels"
Dates covered: 1941-1972