Col. Mary Feik, CAP & Aviation Icon, Passes

June 11, 2016 by
Filed under: Aerospace Education, Cadet Programs, CAP NHQ 
(Originally published on the CAP VolunteerNow website)

Col Mary Feik

Col. Mary S. Feik, the Civil Air Patrol icon and aviation pioneer who was especially renowned as a CAP ambassador devoted to the organization’s cadets, has passed away.. She was 92.

“The passing of Mary Feik is a great loss to the aerospace community and to Civil Air Patrol, and especially to our cadets,” said Maj. Gen. Joe Vazquez, CAP national commander. “Mary’s achievements and honors over seven decades as a pioneer in so many fields are too numerous to even try to list, but we in CAP will always remember her for her devotion to our young members. Their accomplishments in the years to come, in whatever walks of life they choose, will be the greatest memorial to her legacy.

Feik’s aviation career dated back to the early 1940s, and her contributions as an engineer, pilot, mechanic, instructor, aerospace educator and in other capacities earned her numerous national and international distinctions.

She insisted, however, that “my greatest honor” was the CAP cadet milestone award named for her in 2002.

At her own expense, she printed and signed more than 10,000 Mary Feik Achievement certificates and distributed them to cadets at wing conferences and other CAP gatherings throughout the nation. The award signified completion of the third achievement of the cadet program.

While visiting CAP National Headquarters at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, in August 2014 to speak to more than 130 Cadet Officer School participants from all across the nation, she said, “The cadets, they energize me. They keep my battery charged.”

Feik was named a CAP colonel and awarded the organization’s Distinguished Service Medal in 2004. In 2008 she was made a Lifetime Member. She was a longtime member of the Maryland Wing’s Annapolis Composite Squadron, renamed in her honor to the Mary S. Feik Composite Squadron in April.

Outside CAP, her honors included:

  • Member of the Women in Aviation Pioneer Hall of Fame.
  • First woman to receive the Federal Aviation Administration’s Taylor Master Mechanic Award in recognition of contributions to aviation safety.
  • Designation by NASA as one of the 47 most significant women in aerospace.
  • Order of Merit from the World Aerospace Education Organization.

Recognition with the Katharine Wright Trophy, administered by the National Aeronautic Association in partnership with The Ninety-Nines and presented annually to a woman who has contributed to the success of others or made a personal contribution to the advancement of the art, sport and science of aviation and space flight over an extended period.

Those honors and many others reflected a long, diverse career as an aviation engineer, pilot, master mechanic, aircraft maintenance instructor, maintenance instruction manual author, trainer designer and National Air and Space Museum restorer of vintage aircraft.

Feik taught aircraft maintenance for the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II. She was the first woman engineer to work in research and development at the Air Technical Service Command’s Engineering Division at Wright Field, Ohio.

She flew more than 6,000 hours as a B-29 flight engineer, pilot and engineering observer and as a pilot in fighter, attack, bomber, cargo and training aircraft.

Feik’s daughter, Lt. Col. Robin Vest, is a longtime CAP member and former Middle East Region finance officer. She is currently serving as a CAP Wing Financial Analyst. Her son-in-law, Col. Warren Vest, is a former national finance officer and former chief of staff and vice commander of the Virginia Wing and Middle East Region. He currently serves on CAP’s Board of Governors.

Col. Mary Feik will be greatly missed by all.

 

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