Obit of the Day: Canada’s First Black Jet Pilot
Major Walter Peters joined the Royal Canadian Air Force after seeing a recruitment flyer. Major Peters, who figured if he could drive a car he could fly a plane, joined when he was 24 years old and was placed in the jet pilot program. He was the first black candidate in the RCAF program.
The day before graduation he met a former pilot who had flown Mustangs in World War II. While listening to his stories, the stranger turned to Major Peters and asked him what he was doing there. When Major Peters informed the gentleman that he was graduating as a pilot the veteran replied, “In my day you never would have gotten past rear gunner.”
The following day Major Peters received the highest marks of any pilot in the class and went up to the podium to receive his award - from the veteran who had belittled him a day earlier.
The major would have a stellar career in the RCAF. He not only served as a training officer but received appointments as and adviser to the United Nations Security Council and the first human rights officer in the Canadian military. He was also the first black member of the Snowbirds, the RCAF’s precision flying team.
Major Peters, who had classmates refuse to room with him in college because of his race, passed away on February 24, 2013 at the age of 76.
(Image of Major Peters standing in front of his Snowbird shaking hands with an unidentified officer is copyright of RCAF and courtesy of www.45enord.ca)