At 106, War Hero Captain Pete Goutiere Is Still Flying High

At 106, War Hero Captain Pete Goutiere

Is Still Flying High

Aviator Flew 680 Missions Over the “Hump”

During World War II

World War II ace, Captain Pete Goutiere, traveled as a passenger in a restored Douglas C-47 Dakota that participated in D-Day Invasion commemorative events in Europe in May, 2019. Incredibly, Pete had flown that very airplane in the Pacific theater in September 1944. His name is still visible in the plane's log book, 75 years later.
Katonah, New York, October 12--He survived 680 missions over the infamous “Hump” during World War II, flying through ice storms, barely skimming the peaks of the Himalayas and dodging attacks from Japanese fighter planes. Consequently, the COVID-19 Pandemic was not going to deter Captain Pete Goutiere from celebrating his 106th birthday! On Sunday, September 27, 2020, friends and colleagues staged a drive-by birthday party past Pete’s home in Katonah, New York.
Pan Amers were among colleagues and friends who staged a drive-by birthday celebration as World War II Hero Pete Goutiere marked his 106th birthday.
The Centenarian came out to greet them and pose for pictures with well-wishers, some from Pan Am. They recalled the days when he was part of an elite group of pilots with China National Aviation Corporation, flying supplies from India to China. The Japanese had cut off the primary route between the countries, The Burma Road. The only way to bring fuel, troops, food and other supplies to Allied forces fighting in China, was over the perilous Hump.

The Hump refers to the Eastern end of the Himalayan Mountain Range between China and India. This notorious air corridor, its icy peaks the world’s highest, challenged the most daring and competent pilots. Japanese fighter planes hunted the unarmed supply aircraft but the weather over the mountain peaks was equally dangerous. Ice storms weighed down aircraft’s wings, monsoon rains hammered heavily loaded, unpressurized two-propeller airplanes and violent winds generated lethal down drafts that tossed planes to their doom. More than 500 planes were lost over this treacherous airway and over 3000 airmen perished.

Pete Goutiere was part of one of Pan Am’s many heroic efforts in support of the global war effort - the China National Aviation Corporation (CNAC). After Pearl Harbor was bombed, Pete volunteered for the U.S. Army Air Corps but was rejected since he was over the twenty-six-and-a half age limit. He joined Pan American Air Ferries, a subsidiary of Pan Am, formed to ferry all types of airplanes to U.S. armed forces and allies. Pete ferried planes from the United States to Africa. He flew via South America, Ascension Island in the mid-Atlantic, through Africa and on to India, the jumping-off point to combat areas. The trip took 90 flight hours over 14 days.
As a Captain for CNAC, Peter Goutiere flew 680 missions over the Himalayas' infamous "Hump," bringing vital supplies to Allied forces in China.
When war broke out between Japan and China, Pan Am sent 10 DC-3s and several pilots to fly the planes from India to China.  (Pan Am owned 45% of CNAC until after WWII). Pete joined CNAC, which was funded by Pan Am, on December 1, 1942. Just four months later, he earned his Captain’s wings. Pete flew for CNAC until 1947 when the operation was disbanded. 

Pan Am's contribution to the war effort spanned its facilities in the Pacific, Africa and South America. The airline lent its advanced aircraft and communications technology, planes and personnel, helping to maintain aircraft, train pilots, transport supplies and troops and much more. From the attack on Pan Am’s base on Wake Island to the post-war Berlin Internal German Service that provided transport from Berlin to West Germany and Europe, Pan Am’s people served their country proudly. Many died in the line of duty and others suffered in internment camps.

After the war, Pete took his talents to India and the Middle East, working first for the Maharajah of Jaipur. He then trained Jordan’s young King Hussein in piloting the new Boeing 707 jet. The monarch showed his gratitude as a witness to Pete’s marriage to his wife Evelyn. They honeymooned in the ancient city of Petra.

Moving to the US, he went to work for the FAA in 1962, training and check riding pilots. In 1973 he became the agency's man in Lebanon. He would have liked to have remained in Lebanon, but when war broke out in 1975, he left the country with little more than the clothes on his back. He was transferred to the New York office where he continued investigating accidents around the world until his retirement at age 81. In 2019, The Pan Am Museum Foundation presented Pete with a plaque recognizing his dedicated serviced to Pan Am.

Details of Pete Goutiere's impressive and colorful career were published in an article by noted aviation writer, Christine Negroni, who is also a member and firm supporter of the Pan Am Museum Foundation. The article drew messages of praise and congratulations from Pan Amers and aviators around the world.

Christine Negroni flew with Pete in May 2019 as passengers in a restored Douglas C-47 Dakota that participated in D-Day Invasion commemorative events in Europe. She notes, with some awe, that Pete had flown that very airplane into the Pacific theater in September 1944. “I watched as he leafed through the logbook, finding his own writing on the pages, still legible three-quarters of a century later.”

Note to Editors: Captain Pete Goutiere is available for interviews. Please contact Anne Sweeney at 732-329-6629 or e-mail

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The Pan Am Museum Foundation's mission is to develop a Pan Am Museum, furthering the legacy of Pan American World Airways and its importance in aviation history. The Foundation seeks to reunite all former employees and affiliates of Pan American World Airways and those interested in aviation, and to serve future generations by promoting an appreciation of all aspects of the aviation industry. Students, teachers, researchers and the community-at-large will find enrichment through the museum's educational programs. The Pan Am Museum will preserve and exhibit Pan Am artifacts commemorating the company's history, contributions to aviation, and the extraordinary people of Pan Am.

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