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Mastering the Harvard

Heroes Remember

Mastering the Harvard

The Harvard was known as the yellow peril. The Chipmunk which had 90 horse power. We were moving on to radial engine Harvard which had 590 horse power. And if we thought that the Chipmunk had some nasty characteristics, you can imagine the rotational effect of a big propeller and a radial engine in front of you that wants to turn the air plane around the engine instead of the prop around the air plane. One of the things they said about the Harvard which certainly boded well for people who flew was that if you can fly the Harvard, you can fly any air plane that they have in the military. And that has proven to be very true because it was a difficult air plane to fly. It was over powered. It was nasty during the stall. It would, when it stalled it would flip on its back and it was just a nasty air plane, just waiting for you to do something it didn't like so it could grab you. There were times when I was discouraged but I decided, no, I'm not going to quit. If I don't make it, they're going to have to fire me out. So I just persisted and gradually got to the point where I had mastered all the phases and then for some reason hit a plateau and things were not going well and part of it had to do with instructor. You learn that not everybody gets along with everybody and sometimes the instructors just can't hit that cord with you where it opens the door and what they're saying will go in. And they brought over a fellow that had a profound effect on my flying career and probably saved me from being ct'd off the course, a fellow by the name of Bud Gramley. And Bud was slightly younger than I was but Bud had come back. He'd been a Sabre pilot and he'd been probably one of the better Sabre pilots in the Royal Canadian Air Force and he was working in the standard section at the Penhold and he said, "If you work, I can make you a pilot." And I said, "Well, I can work." So he said, "Okay, let's start." And we went back and we tackled every area that I had a problem with and we would brief extensively to make sure that when I got on the air plane we knew exactly what I was going to do and then did it. And surprisingly, he got me over the hump, but from the Harvard as I said we got into different phases. We had clear hood, we had instrument flying, we had night flying, we had formation, we had navigation, did the whole gamut. And then we went on to the T-33 which was the first jet in the training air craft.

Mr. Peters describes his difficulties flying a Harvard, overcoming those roadblocks, and moving on to the T-33 jet trainer.

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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