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United Nations Air Advisor

Heroes Remember

United Nations Air Advisor

When I left the Snowbirds they said, “Where would you like to go next?” You know, it’s always a trick question. You tell them where you want to go and they’ll send you somewhere else. But they gave me two choices. They said, you can go to Colorado Springs to NORAD, or you can go to the United Nations. So, that sounds interesting. So I wound up going to the United Nations and part of the reason I went to the United Nations was because of my past association with people in Newark with the Snowbirds. But I remember sitting there and I went there to become the air advisor to the Secretary General of the UN to advise him on what were the best troop transportation methods and what were the different areas that the UN should be involved in and so on. One of the things that happened while I was there was the interception of the Russians on the Korean airliner and because of my background on air defence command on intercepts when the tapes came down they asked me if I would explain to the Security Council what was going on because the tapes were all in Russian and they had the tapes translated and it became eye opening to see what was going on because it was utter confusion. From the point, from my point of view was of a fighter pilot these guys were really, really rank amateurs because a number of times, you know, they would, they had scrambled different sectors and the number of times one sector would come up and they would lock onto an aircraft and the other sector ready to shoot him down. They were shooting down, you know, aiming at their own knees and so on. So, you know, I was able to give what the environment would have been like in the cockpit. How much time they would have had to make decisions. What the confusion would have been about. What would be going through their minds because it was a pretty tense episode but I remember sitting on the 32nd floor of the United Nations and allowing myself to day dream and say, “Boys, this is a long way from Litsfield, Nova Scotia.”

Mr. Peters describes his role as UN Air Advisor, and helping the Security Council understand the circumstances, from a fighter pilot’s perspective, of the Russian Air Force shoot down of Korean Air flight 007.

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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