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.