Peter B. Davitto
Peter B Davitto Bio- SSS Charter Member
I grew up in Terre Haute, Indiana where there was an Air National Guard Wing at Hulman Field, our regional airport. As a small boy, I remember lying on the grass in our front yard and watching P-51 formations flying overhead. I loved their sound and marveled at how close they were to one another. I dreamed of what it must be like to be a pilot in one of those planes and wished one day I’d be one of them.
Jump forward to my 3rd year in college. A friend of mine and I were talking one Wednesday afternoon and he said, “Guess what I’m doing on Saturday. I’m going out to the Air Guard and taking a test to see if I can become a pilot.” I questioned him on what, who, how, when, and drilled down to question as to whether he thought I could do it too.
He gave me the Officer’s name and suggested I call him and ask. I called and was told to show up at 8 a.m. that Saturday morning and to plan on being there all day. I showed up on time and was there until 5 o’clock. By that afternoon we had finished over 6 hours of timed written tests. There were subjects that I had absolutely no clue to the correct answer, but eventually, I was called and told that I had passed…in fact, both my friend and I passed. A few weeks later my buddy drove us to Scott AFB, where were scheduled for an all-day physical. First, there was an extensive eye exam. My buddy flunked out because, unbeknownst to him, he was color blind. He had to sit the entire day waiting for me. I passed.
I went to Summer Camp that year as an Airman No-Class. I got to do great things like peel potatoes and wash pots and pans for days on end and did then did administrivia until it was time to break camp for home. I guess I passed that test too because the next thing I knew I received a direct commission as a 2nd Lt… No basic training, no OTS.
In December 1965 I reported to Webb AFB in Big Spring, Texas to begin UPT with 53 weeks of intensive training. That one year was tougher than my entire college experience. I graduated in December 1966 and then went to Luke AFB in Glendale, Arizona. I learned to fly the F-100 Super Sabre and acquire the skills needed to drop bombs and fire the 20MM cannons. (I loved strafe – loved it!)
Eight months later I returned to the 113th Tactical Fighter Squadron, at Hulman Field and checked out in F-84F Thunderstreak. Anyone interested in knowing about flying the “Hog” (as it was affectionately called) should read, Richard Bach’s “Stranger to the Ground.” I smiled as I read the book after having flown the Hog because so much of what he described I had personally experienced.
At Summer Camp of 1970 (Volk Field, Wisconsin) I had an unfortunate event coming in from a routine ACM mission when the left main gear, of my Hog collapsed upon landing. I eventually ran off the left side of the runway, at about 100 knots, and smashed into 2 trucks, destroying them and my bird. Both wings tore off with the impact of hitting the trucks, the tail broke off, the engine fell out, and ignited all the fuel I was spilling. When the flaming bird (wreckage) stopped, I jumped out headfirst into the flames and ran like hell… I was completely unharmed… Thank You, Lord!
In 1971 our unit started receiving F-100 Super Sabres, both D and F models. The birds were flown to us from having just returned from Vietnam. I remember the first flight of four that landed and I heard some of the crew chiefs commenting about all the bullet holes in the aircraft that had been patched up.
I had a ton of great times in the Hun, some of which I can talk about and some best left unsaid. I am honored to have flown with some of the best men/pilots who ever flew a fighter. I flew until 1977 and hung up my goggles.
As a civilian, I worked for IBM and GE and retired from IBM in 1997. They allowed me to see the world and participate in international business…both great learning experiences.
Lastly, I must say… Thank You US Air Force for creating the Air National Guard, without a doubt, the Greatest Flying Club ever imagined.
2006 Charter Member – SSS – Asked by Less Frazier to create and maintain the SSS Member DB. I was asked by Medley Gatewood to provide mailing lists/dues status for “The Intake.” I approved new members and added two new classes of members (Associates and Honorary)
2009 Bob Dunham and I were Co-Founders and the first 2 members of the Friends of the Super Sabre (FSS) after the SSS BoD refused to honor the specific meaning of the SSS Motto. Independent of the SSS, Bob and I worked at acquiring Hun A/C and to developing a solid A/C Museum relationship for storing Hun memorabilia/artifacts and static display. Our initial objective was to acquire one of all 5 models of the Hun. I miss my Dear Friend Bob Dunham, may he RIP.
- 9/1965 UPT, Webb AFB, TX
- 12/1966 Pilot Training, Luke AFB, AZ (F-100)
- 8/1966 113th Tactical Fighter Squadron, INANG, IN (F-84F)
- 1967 4517th Combat Crew Training Squadron, Luke AFB, AZ (F-100)
- 1971-1976 113th Tactical Fighter Squadron, INANG, IN (F-100)
Awards & Decorations
Military & Civilian Education