28 February 1941 – The Republic F-84 Thunderjet was an American turbojet fighter-bomber aircraft. Originating as a 1944 United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) proposal for a “day fighter”, the F-84 first flew in 1946. Although it entered service in 1947, the Thunderjet was plagued by so many structural and engine problems that a 1948
In his words…Piloting the F-100
“We like to think we’re different, I mean obviously everyone loves an airplane, but to be a HUN driver then, was something really, really special…you had to be on the top of your game. The guys that were brand new in this airplane in the 50’s many of them were killed by adverse yaw, most of them in the base to final turn…you fly an airplane you use aileron, well you don’t turn an F100 using aileron, you turn an F100 with rudder. Not only was that a killer in the base to final turn but it was overweight and underpowered so the famous “sabre dance”…if you got slow on final approach, you were done, I mean you died! ” – AOPA, November 1, 2016
Dick was born in Plainfield, New Jersey on July 17, 1942, and graduated from Bloomfield College in 1966 with a BA in Political Science and as President of his graduating class. Admittedly, he says, “my high school years were less than stellar!! I was an athlete, not a scholar. I was headed nowhere until one of my high school teachers, a close friend still today, took me by the seat of the pants, kicked my butt, and told me to grow up in the Army. I did.
“My military career began as a Private in the Army in 1960 where I trained in Infantry, Artillery, and Airborne. After my Army active duty tour, in order to earn some additional funds for college, I joined the New Jersey Army National Guard and attended the New Jersey Military Academy where I was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant Artillery. I remained in the Army National Guard/Reserve including two years as the X-O of an Operational Detachment with the 11th Special Forces Group Airborne, until graduating from college.
“With “some help” I was able to transfer my Army Guard commission to the New Jersey Air National Guard and joined the 119th TFS in Atlantic City. They were flying the “Hun” at the time. My aviation career and my long-sought path to becoming a fighter pilot began. I attended pilot training at Willie class 68-E and F-100 Combat Crew Training at Luke. In January of 1968 while still at Willie, my unit was called to active duty and sent to Myrtle Beach to set up an RTU. After activation and while still at Luke, I volunteered for Vietnam and was assigned to the 174th Tactical Fighter Squadron, of the IAANG based at Phu Cat AB, RVN. During my tour as a Phu Cat “Bat” I flew 122 combat sorties in the F-100-C. After Vietnam, I returned to Atlantic City where I continued to fly the “Hun” until sometime later we transitioned to the F-105 “Thud”. ”
Dick’s airline career began in 1971 with Eastern Air Lines. He was hired at the end of a major hiring cycle and remembers Frank Borman coming into his new hire class and declaring “you’ll all be Captains in three years.” After two layoffs and for the next eighteen years, he flew as a Pilot and Flight Engineer on the Boeing 727 and Airbus A-300. During those uncertain times, job security and a monthly paycheck were never assured so in 1977, he became the founding Vice President of Vintage Selections, Ltd., the first “wine only” wholesale distributor in Arizona that was responsible for bringing some of the finest varietal wineries in from Napa Valley.
In 1987, he quit Eastern after Dick says, “the “moon man’” sold us out to corporate raider Frank Lorenzo and three years before the strike and the eventual bankruptcy”.
Dick then started Lone Eagle Aviation, Inc. Lone Eagle served as the base of operations for a successful Airline Transport Pilot and Flight Engineer FAA Written Test Prep program. He authored several ATP and FE study guides. Lone Eagle also offered an ATP Flight Certification Program with over 6,000 graduates mostly military pilots; a Part 135 Air Charter Company; Eagle Rescue, an Air Ambulance Company serving the Phoenix Metro area, and a Part 142 training company offering type ratings in the B-737 and A-320 aircraft.
For 42 years he lived outside Scottsdale, in the town of Carefree and served as both an Officer and Board Member of the Carefree Kiwanis Club. Dick was also President of Our Lady of Joy parish council; School Board Member; Republican Party Precinct committeeman and served on countless Maricopa County, Arizona advisory boards.
Dick flew over 122 Combat Missions and says, “I had a diverse military background, Enlisted and Officer in both the Army and Air Force. Fourteen years total service Active and Guard. Without a doubt, some of the greatest times of my life!!”
Captain Dick Pietro is currently the Director at Large of the Super Sabre Society.