Brigadier General Charles “Pete” Winters
M.S. Aerospace Engineering, 1968
AFIT Distinguished Alumni, 2014
General Charles “Pete” Winters was a graduate of the first class at the U.S. Air Force Academy, graduating in June 1959 with a bachelor of science degree. He earned his pilot wings at Laredo Air Force Base in Texas.
After completing F-100 tactical training at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, and Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, he served in Japan, South Carolina, Turkey, and Italy.
From June 1966 to March 1968, General Winters attended AFIT where he earned a master of science degree in Aerospace Engineering. He was then stationed at Phan Rang Air Base in the Republic of Vietnam where he flew 298 combat missions in the F-100.
General Winters was selected to attend the Aerospace research Pilot School at
Edwards Air Force Base in California and, upon graduation in July 1970, he was awarded the Liethen-Tittle Trophy for outstanding flying performance and academic excellence.
He remained at Edwards as a test pilot with the F-111 Joint Test Force (JTF). On September 12, 1972, an aircraft he was flying entered an uncontrolled spin and crashed. General Winters and his flight test engineer ejected safely using the new escape capsule system.
While assigned to the F-111 JTF, he was one of two pilots to participate in a project to develop an armed remotely piloted vehicle for enemy defense suppression missions. A little more than nine months after the initial go-ahead, the system was successfully demonstrated with a direct hit against a simulated surface-to-air missile site.
In August 1973, General Winters began a nine-month assignment as a project pilot for several classified projects where he flew 11 evaluation flights. This included flying simulated combat maneuvers against preproduction F-15A prototype aircraft.
At the same time, he was assigned as project pilot and operations officer with the F-15 JTF at Edwards where he conducted more than 60 spin tests. He was instrumental in the discovery of a new phenomenon called “auto-roll” and was also in charge of air combat maneuvering tests.
General Winters attended the Industrial College of the Armed Forces and upon graduation he was assigned as chief of procedures and training for Command and Control, United States Air Forces in Europe.
Returning to the U.S. in July 1979, he assumed command and was responsible for overseeing several high-level classified test projects. Under General Winters’ supervision, the F-117A transitioned from prototype phase to initial operational capability in less than five years.
In July 1983, he was assigned as inspector general for the Air Force Systems Command. He was promoted to brigadier general in April 1985 and later was assigned as deputy chief of staff for test and resources at the Headquarters Air Force Systems Command.
General Winters retired from active duty in 1988. In 2000, he formed a corporation called Joint Test Training and Technical. His company won a large defense contract that sought to consolidate all contract services and activities associated with test and training at facilities in Nevada, California and Utah.
His company has been involved in testing such aircraft as the F-35 Lightning II, F-117 Nighthawk, B-2 Spirit, and F-22 Raptor. He retired from the company on December 31, 2004, but has continued to serve as a consultant and advisor.