A mainstay of the Arizona Wing’s aerospace education program, Lt. Col. Peter Feltz died on Sunday, January 3, 2021, at the age of 91.
Feltz joined Civil Air Patrol in March 1987. He was recruited for his HAM radio skills and immediately started teaching a popular communications class with hands-on skills training. Wanting to broaden his CAP experiences, he pursued mission scanner then observer training to take part in squadron flying operations. After a few operational missions, the left side of the cockpit captured his interest and he pursued ground school then flight training. He was a mission pilot and cadet orientation pilot for many years and had nearly 1,400 flight hours.
His first assignment as an assistant wing aerospace education officer came in January 1990. The aerospace education program was where he made his home in Civil Air Patrol, serving in either primary or assistant roles until June 2020. Over 33 years as a member, he also served as a squadron commander, group commander, and at the wing as chief of staff, vice commander, director of operations, and plans and programs officer.
He held master ratings in the aerospace education, communications, and plans and programs specialty tracks, as well as technician ratings in the command and emergency services tracks. He received the Gill Robb Wilson Award in November 1994 and was promoted to Lt. Col. In February 1998.
Feltz was born in Chicago in 1929 and lived there until he relocated in 1957 to Arizona, where he worked as a licensed insurance agent for more than 50 years. He was a U.S. Army veteran who served in an active combat zone in Korea for 18 months, receiving the U.S. Army Korean Service Medal with three campaign stars. His Civil Air Patrol awards and decorations included 10 commander’s commendations, three exceptional service awards, group commander and senior member of the year awards, the Arizona Wing ACE Award, the A. Scott Crossfield Award, and the 2005 Southwest Region Frank G. Brewer-Civil Air Patrol Memorial Aerospace Award.
He and Lt. Col. William Turner were the Arizona Wing Aerospace Education external team for many years and developed an aerospace education museum in a travel trailer. This display appeared at air shows, conferences, schools, libraries, and aviation functions throughout Arizona and the Southwest Region. The most memorable part of this exhibit was 27 mannequins dressed in military uniforms of the various U.S. military branches. The collection grew as individuals offered their relatives’ uniforms along with stories about them that were displayed on a card. Feltz continued to mount displays at a variety of events, often with his internal Aerospace Education program partner, Lt. Col. Fred “Fritz” Seifritz, who died in June 2020.
Feltz and Turner also organized a $3,500 donation from Arizona Wing to the Commemorative Air Force in Mesa to paint a Korean War-era Aeronca in CAP livery. Since it was not a WWII-vintage plane, it did not get the familiar yellow color but rather the gray of the 1950s era. According to the current Arizona Wing Director of Aerospace Education Maj. Ron Marks, he and Wing Historian Lt. Col. Bob McCord are working on a display involving that airplane, which has recently been taken off flying status.
“We will be building a permanent display in the CAF Museum to honor CAP’s role in WWII using the memorabilia from Pete’s work in that trailer,” Marks said. “I was able to let Pete know before he passed that we would be memorializing his work in a permanent display for generations to see. He was very pleased and thankful it would be preserved.”
Feltz had a national impact on aerospace education efforts through his work with the National Congress on Aviation and Space Education. This aerospace education conference was presented annually by CAP, the Air Force Association, and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. It brought together educators from around the nation to learn from a variety of gifted speakers and motivational teachers. Aerospace-oriented, hands-on activities for all grade levels were offered by educators showcasing new learning tools to capture the imagination of students.
One of Feltz’s most historically valuable contributions was as a staff member for NCASE where he spent 12 years as the interviewer for a series of “living history” videos. He interviewed several astronauts including Buzz Aldrin. He documented award-winning teachers of the year and other distinguished guests who attended these annual conferences. One such guest was Scott Crossfield, the 1950s-era, pre-NASA pilot who logged 100 rocket flights and was a strong supporter of CAP. Feltz was able to complete 12 interviews yearly for a total of 144 interviews documenting the personalities behind decades of aerospace history. He transferred these recordings to DVD and arranged for them to be available to future researchers through the archives at National Headquarters. “Pete was a great friend to aerospace education here in Arizona,” Marks said. “He mentored many AEOs including me. He was a great asset to our team providing guidance and advice.”
UPDATE: The funeral for Lt. Col. Feltz is Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, at 10:00 am at Saint Helen Roman Catholic Parish, 5510 W.Cholla St., Glendale, AZ 85304. CAP members who choose to attend are authorized by Wing Commander Col. Rob Pinckard to wear CAP uniforms to the funeral. The family asks that any members attending notify them so they can assure sufficient space in the church to allow for social distancing. For additional information regarding RSVPs and the possibility of volunteering to be a pallbearer, please refer to the email sent on January 13 to all members of AZ Wing.
The 41st Operation Pulse Lift Blood Donation Center (BDC) operation since mid-April took place on November 25 at the Cochise Composite Squadron in Sierra Vista. Since the COVID blood donation mission began, 1,291 units of blood have been donated.
“Today again, the Cochise Squadron went far over the donor average (27) to help collect 35 units of blood,” said Incident Commander Lt. Col. Bob Ditch. “This took the total amount of blood donated to 91 units over the planned annual goal of 1,200.”
Ditch expressed his thanks to the 157 members from across the Arizona Wing who helped to make a difference in the lives of 3,873 people who benefited from the donated blood. He especially noted the work of Arizona Wing Safety Team members for their efforts to ensure that all 41 blood drives were conducted safely.
Ditch is still asking for anyone in the wing who has donated blood independently (outside a CAP-sponsored blood drive) to contact him (email@example.com) so those donations may be added to the total.
The November 25 blood drive concluded the 2020 schedule of donor events, but the Wing remains on-call for the rest of the year, to support its partners at the American Red Cross, for no-notice and backfill needs. The next scheduled blood drive will be in early January in Tucson.
The current Operation Pulse Lift stats are as follows:
- Total blood units collected over three years prior to COVID missions: 527
- Total blood units collected during seven-month COVID mission: 1,291
- Total blood units collected via Operation Pulse Lift: 1,818
- Total lives potentially saved: 5,454
- Total person encounters in 2020: 1,613 (Includes those screened and not approved to donate for various reasons)
- Total COVID cross-infections to CAP personnel: 0
With simultaneous blood drives at the 388th Composite Squadron in Glendale and the Falcon Composite Squadron in Mesa on November 17, the Arizona Wing soared past its goal of having 1,200 units of blood donated by Thanksgiving. The total for the COVID-related mission was 1,226 units collected since mid-April.
An additional blood drive on Nov. 19 at the 388th added 30 more blood units and raised the total to 1,256. With 16 blood drives, the 388th is responsible for the collection of a total of 435 units of blood.
One more blood drive this year is scheduled for Nov. 25 at Cochise Composite Squadron in Sierra Vista. Operation Pulse Lift Incident Commander Lt. Col. Bob Ditch says, “Knowing that they have always gathered record collections (once 42 units), I would not be at all surprised to see them push the Arizona Wing’s total over 1,300 units (100 units over the annual goal).”
Any wing members (or their family members) who have donated blood at any non-CAP-sponsored location may add those donations to the total number. Email Lt. Col. Ditch (firstname.lastname@example.org) to make your donations count.
The following members of the Arizona Wing have achieved cadet milestone awards or senior member promotions in the last 90 days. Congratulations to all on these achievements.
Wright Brothers Award — promotion to Cadet Staff Sergeant
|Evangelia Birnbaum||Sky Harbor|
|Ellie Garrison||Show Low|
|William Heaps||London Bridge|
|Troy Holderby||Deer Valley|
|Cameron Kenyon||Show Low|
|Kailee Marshall-Levitch||Sky Harbor|
Billy Mitchell Award — promotion to Cadet 2nd Lieutenant
Amelia Earhart Award — promotion to Cadet Captain
|Brenden Miller||Deer Valley|
The following senior members were recently promoted:
|Stephen Barnes||Captain||Deer Valley|
|David Barry||Tech Sergeant||Payson|
|Maria Lopez||2nd Lieutenant||Yuma|
|Matthew McGuire||Lt Colonel||Wm Rogers|
|Gregory Roberts||Major||Wm Rogers|
|William Seaman||Captain||Wm Rogers|
|John Spilotro||Captain||Wm Rogers|
Six Arizona Wing squadrons earned the Aerospace Education Achievement Award for fiscal year 2020.
The Award winners for FY2020 are:
- Deer Valley Squadron 302
- Eloy Composite Squadron 131
- Falcon Composite Squadron 305
- Prescott Composite Squadron 206
- Scottsdale Composite Squadron 314
- Yuma Composite Squadron 508
“Through their dedicated efforts these squadrons completed the necessary requirements for earning this award,” said Maj. Ron Marks, Director of Aerospace Education, Arizona Wing. “In addition to achieving the AEX award, these units showed a great commitment to achieving the 8 of 12 additional tasks and activities outlined in 39-1. Thank you for your active and successful involvement in helping accomplish the AE mission and for promoting an interest in aerospace, aviation and STEM.
A certificate will be sent to the squadrons to be displayed and the awards will be presented awards virtually at some point in the future.
The latest quarterly issue of The Fly-By, the Southwest Region electronic newsletter is now available. It includes nine stories from Arizona Wing, plus stories from throughout the region. Arizona Wing articles include:
- Blood Donation Centers Sustain Arizona Wing’s Longest Disaster Relief Mission
- Seeing and Sharing the Big Picture – Arizona Wing Members Develop the ‘Beacon Hunter’ – A Web-Based App for Plotting ELT Search Bearings into a Visible Database
- Arizona Wing Cadet Earns Private Pilot Scholarship, about C/Lt. Col. Jacob Mieding from London Bridge Composite Squadron
- Arizona Wing Squadron Embraces: Practice! Practice! Practice!, about Deer Valley Composite Squadron’s operations training in searching for 406 MHz ELTs
- Arizona Wing Cadets Compare Notes with International Counterparts, regarding a video meeting between Prescott Composite Squadron cadets and their counterparts in the UK
- Arizona Wing Completes Second COVID-19 Mission, about the meal delivery mission carried out for Maricopa County’s public health department
- Arizona Wing Hosts Virtual Aerospace Education Officer School for Southwest Region, regarding the efforts of Wing AE Director Maj. Ron Marks to conduct a virtual AEO school
- Arizona Wing Supports Transport Mission for Arizona National Guard, about the third COVID-related mission undertaken by the wing at the request of the Dept. of Emergency & Military Affairs
- On the Road with Arizona Wing’s ‘Dr. Bob’ in Mesa, Arizona — a guest editorial from Lt. Col. Bob Ditch about the Commemorative Air Force Museum
You’ll find the Fly-By here.
Thanks to all who participated in the Arizona Wing Virtual Conference on Oct. 24. Info will be posted soon on how to watch recordings of sessions you missed (or want to watch again) and how anyone who needs credit for attending will get that credit.
Here are a few behind-the-scenes photos from the VideoWest production facility where the magic happened. That’s C/1st Lt. Deon Bryant on camera and Capt. John Bryant on teleprompter, both from Falcon Squadron 305. From Deer Valley Squadron 302, Lt. Col. Gordon Helm as emcee and Capt. Margot Myers in the control room directing the TV broadcast. (Not pictured, because he took most of these photos, is Capt. Aaron Feller from Scottsdale Squadron 314, who managed all of the technical aspects of the conference.)
There were dozens more members from across the Wing who contributed as speakers, moderators, and members of the tech support team. If you liked what you saw, it was because of all of them.
Arizona Wing met its goal of collecting 1,000 units of blood for the American Red Cross on Wednesday, more than a month before the Thanksgiving target date.
The wing passed the 1,000-unit mark in Glendale, where the 388th Composite Squadron hosted the wing’s 32nd emergency blood donation drive with the Red Cross in six months. The wing stepped in when pandemic-related restrictions prevented the Red Cross from collecting blood at its usual sites for doing so.
“Since the evening of March 17, when the surgeon general noted the critical need for blood donations during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, and the closure of nearly 4,000 blood donation centers, the Arizona Wing has been engaged in the coordination, planning and execution of the longest series of blood donation center operations in the nation by a single organization,” said Lt. Col. Bob Ditch, the wing’s incident commander for the blood drive mission..
Kurt Kroemer, Red Cross CEO for the Arizona-New Mexico-El Paso Region, cited the importance of a steady supply of much-needed blood. “Many of our partners will host a blood drive once a year,” Kroemer said. “The fact that you have sponsored more than 30 blood drives since mid-April is remarkable.”
The first two blood drives were held in April by the 388th Composite Squadron in Glendale and the Falcon Composite Squadron in Mesa. Since then, squadrons in Eloy, Show Low and Sierra Vista have joined the mission.
Capt. Klara Olcott was seven days into commanding the 388th Composite when the blood donation mission started to take shape. “Putting on blood drives is a large time investment,” Olcott said, “but when our squadron took on this mission, I was confident we would be able to support it because we have capable leaders and a cohesive team. I fully credit them for stepping up to the call.”
The mission is ongoing, with another blood drive slated for the Falcon Composite Squadron on Oct. 21 and five additional drives scheduled into mid-November. “The Arizona Wing will continue this critical lifesaving mission into 2021,“though likely at a reduced pace,” Ditch said.
The blood donated in Arizona goes wherever it is needed most. Recently, some of the blood has been sent to hospitals in California treating people injured by wildfires.
CAP’s Southwest Region activated three incident command posts and one area command post to support state and local emergency management operations in Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas. Over 100 CAP members have been activated to support hurricane-related missions as assigned by FEMA and state and local emergency services agencies in those three states.
Three Arizona Wing members served in the virtual area command post that operated during the first few days following Hurricane Laura’s landfall: Assistant Area Commander for Planning Lt. Col. Bob Ditch, Public Information Officer Lt. Col. Jim Nova, and Assistant PIO Lt. Col. Gordon Helm.
The Louisiana Wing is flying damage assessment photo missions over storm-devastated areas in the aftermath of Hurricane Laura.
On Sunday, three wing aircrews flew over areas the Federal Emergency Management Agency identified as targets, using specialized photographic and navigational equipment. A fourth aircrew flew over Alexandria, using conventional cameras to produce damage imagery requested by city emergency managers.
A fifth airplane served as a high bird, flying at a relatively high altitude between the photo airplanes and their Baton Rouge mission base in order to serve as an aerial relay station for radio messages between the other planes and mission base.
These days, our lives are filled with news that’s hard to face – a global pandemic, divisive politics, and civil rights issues. These concerns have forced their way into our personal lives, and in many respects, this is probably a good thing. Our country may be struggling, but I am confident we will emerge from these trials stronger than ever.
Your continuing support of the Civil Air Patrol and Arizona Wing is key to our future. We’re still probably months away from face-to-face meetings, but we’re not dead in the water in terms of moving about our communities and our state and influencing people we encounter. We respond to SAR missions, we sponsor and assist with blood drives, we travel to and from our airports, we relocate equipment, and in the coming months, I anticipate that our involvement in these and even new types of activities will only increase. The most important six inches on our road to full remobilization are between your ears. As your commander, I can’t tell you how important it is, and how proud I am, that you use that distance well!
As American citizens and Civil Air Patrol members, we represent the whole spectrum of political ideologies that comprise this nation’s culture. Our national commander says, “We strive, always, to be an inclusive organization that values and respects all our members.” Our core values as CAP members drive us to demonstrate integrity and respect in everything we do, both within CAP and as citizens in the communities where we serve.
You are, of course, entitled to your personal perspective, but don’t let the line blur between your personal and CAP lives. When you wear the CAP uniform, when you display your CAP affiliation on your social websites, you are representing the whole organization, including the U.S. Air Force, our Total Force parent organization. It is not appropriate to wear your uniform at a political event or a demonstration. It’s deeply inappropriate to strike a hard ethnic opinion which can, in any manner, reflect poorly upon the Civil Air Patrol –- especially in light of our organizational equal opportunity and diversity mandates. Remember that CAP takes no side in the issues we are facing today, and when you’re representing CAP, you shouldn’t either.
Acknowledge the risks related to activities at certain locations at certain times and don’t go there. If you haven’t heard from a fellow member in a while, give him or her a call, just to check in and share some stories. Abide by CAP’s COVID-19 protocols and help our fellow members do the same.
I am profoundly proud that my comments likely will come as news to no one reading this. I’m equally proud of how your behavior has honored this wing, the Civil Air Patrol, and our communities, state and nation in recent weeks.
Col. Rob Pinckard, CAP
Commander, Arizona Wing