MOAA Catalina Mountains Satellite members hear about Pima Air Space Museum

Lieutenant Colonel Rick Felker speaks at the March meeting.

Lieutenant Colonel Rick Felker speaks at the March meeting.

Colonel Rett Benedict

The MOAA Catalina Mountains Satellite Chapter met March 19, 2016, at the MountainView Club in SaddleBrooke. The speaker was Lieutenant Colonel Rick Felker from the Pima Air and Space Museum. Lieutenant Colonel Felker served in Vietnam as a Forward Air Controller, in Cambodia as an Assistant Air Attaché and had a final active duty tour at Davis-Monthan. He now lives in Tucson and started serving as a volunteer at the Museum in 1997.

Lieutenant Colonel Felker shared with us many interesting facts about the museum and its exhibits. The museum was founded in 1966 and opened to the public in 1976. It is the third largest Air Museum in the U.S. and the largest privately owned air museum in the world with over 300 aircraft on display. Rick told us with many stories about the aircraft and space vehicles on exhibit at the museum. The SR-71 Blackbird is a highlight exhibit of the fastest and highest flying airplane ever built and operated routinely. There are multiple WWII type aircraft, including a P-51 Mustang built entirely from spare parts, quite a feat by the museum staff! There are several one of a kind aircraft from the NASA turbo-prop Super Guppy used for ferrying outside space vehicles to Florida for launch to the Bumble Bee, the smallest piloted biplane on record.

Many of the aircraft are quite famous due to their missions, such as a retired VC-137 similar to an Air Force One and even a Bede BD-5J microjet made famous in the James Bond movie Octopussy! There is a plane similar to the one that Harrison Ford landed on a golf course not too long ago and there is the V-1 “buzz-bomb” used in WWII that the Canadians captured in Germany. There is also a section there dedicated to women pilots including Marion Hart who flew back and forth across the Atlantic multiple times while in her 70s.

The museum is a great place to visit; plan on spending the day, especially if you want to include a bus tour of the aircraft boneyard on Davis-Monthan AFB. The Pima Air and Space Museum is entirely staffed with volunteers and they are always looking for new members.

Our next meeting is scheduled for Saturday, April 16, 2016, at 11:30 a.m. in the East Room, MountainView Country Club. The planned speaker is Brigadier General David Patton, talking about his experiences flying the U-2. Spouses are welcome and invited.

For additional information contact Colonel Rett Benedict, president, 825-7424, [email protected] or Colonel Tom Owens, MOAA Tucson President, 760-3476, [email protected]. Check our website for more information.

The Catalina Mountains satellite is part of the Tucson Chapter and encompasses northwest Tucson to include Catalina, Oracle, parts of Oro Valley and Marana, SaddleBrooke and Sun City.

The Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) is a nonprofit veterans’ service association dedicated to maintaining a strong national defense and to preserve the earned entitlements of members of the uniformed services and their families and survivors.