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First Solo

Heroes Remember

I got airborne and then the, what, the situation really came into focus and I said, "Here I am. I'm airborne. What if I can't land this? How do I get down?" Because you always had in the back this safety net. If the speed started to get down, you'd feel the throttle going up or somebody saying, "Air speed," and that was, that's one of the tricks of instructional technique is that you don't have long sentences. Just one word and then you react to that one word because you don't want somebody saying, watch your air speed, because by the time they get it all out you could be in very serious trouble. And I remember coming in and saying, "I think I'm high" then I'd break the glide path and I said, "No, I'm too low. I'm getting too slow." And the power would go on, "Now I'm going too fast!" And the power would come off. And finally you get a bit of relief when you find that you're finally over the runway, doesn't matter how high you are. You're finally over the asphalt And now the worst thing you can do is stall and you're hoping that you're not high enough that it will be a severe stall, but you bring it down and you get to a point and you say, "Well, I'm just going to pull the power off and hold in this attitude, that's what they told me to do, and see what happens." And surprisingly, it lands just the way that they said it would. You start to breathe a sigh on relief and then you get a feeling of accomplishment. I've done it. I've done it, and then you taxi into the flight line and there you're met by your buddies. And what your buddies do is they cut off your tie because that is the ceremonial act for soloing an aircraft and they have a big board in the mess which is the officer's mess in this case and they pin your tie up on the board on the day you soloed and, you know. As I say, mine was one of the last ones to go up on the board. So everybody was waiting for me because they knew that I had worked hard. They knew that in a lot of cases I had been supportive of them and from that position, from that time in the course, they were going on to another air plane and everybody wanted to see everybody that was on the course go along because you now were starting to develop real friendships and it was very difficult when somebody did not pass the standard.

Mr. Peters describes his first solo (in a Chipmunk), the elation of safely landing and the ritual he shares with his fellow pilots afterwards.

Walter Peters

Walter Peters, the youngest of six children, was born in Litchfield, Nova Scotia in 1937. A graduate of Mount Allison University, he worked for the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation before enlisting in the Royal Canadian Air Force at age twenty-four and entering pilot training. After receiving his commission and wings, Mr. Peters enjoyed a distinguished career on many levels. He was Canada’s first black jet fighter pilot and an A1 flying instructor. He was involved in the development of the Snowbirds and later flew with them. At Trenton, Mr. Peters piloted Hercules cargo aircraft on assorted missions around the globe, and it was here that he also became the Canadian Armed Forces’ first Human Rights Officer. As advisor to the United Nations Security Council, Mr. Peters offered advice on the tactical movement of troops by air, and analysed and briefed the Council after the Russian shootdown of a Korean civilian jet in 1983. He retired holding the rank of Major.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Walter Peters
War, Conflict or Mission:
Canadian Armed Forces
Air Force

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