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By Laura Dillman Ripley
Walter "Bubbles" Peters ('59) holds a significant place in
Canadian aviation and Mount Allison's histories. Peters,
who grew up in Saint John, NB says he chose Mount
Allison for several reasons -- its great reputation, a certain
recruiter named Dr. Godfrey, football, and location.
"I needed a school I could hitchhike home from."
As a member of the first Mountie football team, Peters
was known as the team's `secret weapon' -- the fastest
running back of his day. He scored the first point ever for
the Mounties. His gridiron honours include Rookie of the
Year, MVP and scoring champion, as well as the Quarter
Century Mount Allison All-Star Team Award in 1980.
Following Mount Allison, Peters enlisted with the Royal
Canadian Air Force (RCAF), graduating in 1963. He
became the country's first black jet pilot during a time
of great racial tension.
Peters says, "I hadn't really thought of being a pilot as a
career, there weren't many black people in the Air
Force. There were times I could sense some tension, but
I was a little older than many of the other pilots and, as
a result, ended up being a tutor to many of them. My
mantra was always, `You don't have to accept me but
you do have to respect me.'"
This respect was well earned. Peters was also a member
of the world-famous Snowbirds aerobatic team, serving
as Deputy Commanding Officer of 431 Squadron from
1980-1982.
He says, "I was near the end of my flying career, which
I think made this the best time for me. Being a Snowbird
is the best flying position in the Air Force and I thor-
oughly enjoyed it."
Peters was appointed as Air Advisor to the Secretary
General of the United Nations where he provided advice
on all UN air operations around the world, receiving the
Walter Peters, centre, receives his 50-year pin at Reunion
2009 from former Chancellor John Bragg and President
and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Robert Campbell (right).
UN Medal in 1983. Peters held a number of senior posi-
tions in the RCAF and retired as a decorated Senior Officer.
However his retirement was short lived. He was one of
the main players in the establishment of the Canadian
Aviation Safety Board, investigating cases such as the
Air India accident in 1985.
He then moved on to Transport Canada where he was
responsible for creating and implementing safety
programs for aviation. Peters served as chairman of the
IDEAS (International Data Exchange in Aviation)
Committee -- with more than 20 countries represented.
In 1998 he retired (again) as Director General for
Aviation Safety.
But, a man like Walter Peters cannot stay retired for
long. Known and respected as an aviation safety expert
worldwide, Peters established an aviation consulting
company and was recruited by Bombardier to set up a
NATO Flying Training program in Canada.
Peters `semi-retired' in 2005 and continues to work as a
consultant with many of the major aviation companies.
Featurestory
University | 19
Being a Snowbird is
the best flying position
in the Air Force and I
thoroughly enjoyed it