Veteran Pilot’s CAP Career Also Includes Colo. Wing Command, Mich. Wing Leadership Posts
Civil Air Patrol’s next national commander, Maj. Gen.-Select Mark Smith, has chosen Great Lakes Region Commander Col. Edward Phelka as his national vice commander. The announcement was made today after Phelka was approved by the organization’s Board of Governors.
“Col. Phelka’s commitment and devotion to Civil Air Patrol over the past 30 years is exemplary,” said Smith, who selected Phelka over 10 other candidates for the national post. “He is field-tested and fully prepared to help lead this organization forward.”
Phelka will join Smith on Sept. 2 for a change of command ceremony with Maj. Gen. Joe Vazquez, the current national commander, at Civil Air Patrol’s 2017 National Conference in San Antonio.
As national vice commander, Phelka is charged with helping lead CAP’s 57,000 volunteers in fulfilling the organization’s congressionally chartered missions — emergency services, cadet programs and aerospace education. The national vice commander is a member of the CAP Command Council, which consists of the organization’s national commander, eight region commanders and 52 wing commanders, along with the national executive officer, CAP’s chief operating officer and the commander of CAP-USAF.
Phelka, a native of Michigan living in the Greater Detroit area, joined Civil Air Patrol as a cadet in 1987. During his cadet career, he completed all 15 achievements of the CAP cadet program, earning the Gen. Carl A. Spaatz Award — the highest achievement available to cadets — in 1993. He also visited Germany as a participant in the International Air Cadet Exchange in the summer of 1993.
Following transition to senior membership, Phelka’s assignments included three years as commander of the Michigan Wing’s Livonia Thunderbolt Cadet Squadron and two years as commander of the Southeast Michigan Group, director of cadet programs in both the Michigan and Colorado wings, and chief of staff for the Colorado Wing.
Phelka was assigned to lead the six wings of the Great Lakes Region in March 2015 after serving as national controller — as the principal adviser to the national commander and CAP Senior Advisory Group on logistics and financial accountability — from August 2011-January 2015. He commanded the Colorado Wing from December 2007-April 2011.
Phelka earned his private pilot certificate in 1998, and is a commercial, multi-engine and instrument-rated certified flight instructor, CAP cadet orientation pilot and CAP check pilot examiner with over 1,600 flying hours. He holds Master ratings in the Command, Logistics and Cadet Programs specialty tracks; Senior ratings in Flight Operations, Stan/Eval, and Plans and Programs; and Mission Pilot, Observer, Scanner and Transport Mission Pilot, and glider tow pilot qualifications. In 2007, he completed Level V of the Senior Member Professional Development program, earning the Gill Robb Wilson Award.
Phelka has also commanded region-level encampments and Cadet Leadership Schools, soloed CAP cadet students at the Johnson Flight Academy in Mattoon, Illinois, served as a seminar adviser for both Cadet Officer School and National Staff College at CAP National Headquarters at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, and worked as a staff member for the International Air Cadet Exchange in Washington, D.C. In 2006 he created a new National Cadet Special Activity (Airline Careers Exploration), successfully directing that event for two years at Denver International Airport.
Outside of Civil Air Patrol, Phelka works as a certified flight instructor and corporate pilot. In the past, he was employed as an interpreter, supervisor, manager and senior manager in both customer service and operations departments at Northwest Airlines (Detroit) and Frontier Airlines (Denver) from 1995-2007. He was also employed at an aviation software company in Boulder, Colorado, as director of international sales from 2008-2010.
Phelka holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, with major fields of study in economics and the German language.
He and his wife, Dr. Amanda Phelka, have two children.