Col Edward D. Phelka is the commander of Civil Air Patrol’s Great Lakes Region. He is responsible for the command and administration of more than 6,400 volunteers, 66 powered aircraft, 110 vehicles, and 6 gliders across Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Civil Air Patrol is a federally chartered nonprofit corporation and the civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, headquartered at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.
Prior to his appointment as Region Commander, Col Phelka was Civil Air Patrol’s National Controller – the principal advisor to the National Commander and CAP Senior Advisory Group on logistics and financial accountability. In this role he was the chief asset manager for Civil Air Patrol’s $100 Million in assets, including 550 aircraft and 1,000 vehicles. He also served on the National Board and National Executive Committee, and was the Assistant National Finance Officer for the corporation, as well as Vice Chair of the National Finance Committee and member of the Financial Management Board through September 2012.
Col Phelka served as the Commander of Colorado Wing from 2007-2011, during which time he also held the volunteer State position of Director, State Division of Civil Air Patrol under the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. As Colorado Wing Commander, Col Phelka grew the wing by more than 35% to nearly 2,100 members, including a 77% increase in cadets. Under his leadership, the wing attained an “Excellent” rating on the Survey Audit (with zero findings), “Excellent” on the 2009 SAREVAL, and “Highly Successful” on the 2011 Compliance Inspection conducted just weeks after the change of command. During his command, Colorado wing flew more than 10,000 hours, and was credited with over 90 finds and at least two dozen lives saved.
Originally from Michigan, Col Phelka 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 General Billy Mitchell Award in 1988, the Amelia Earhart Award in 1989, and the General Carl A. Spaatz Award in 1993. He also participated in the International Air Cadet Exchange to Germany in the summer of 1993. Following transition to Senior Membership, Col Phelka’s assignments included three years as Squadron Commander of Michigan Wing’s Livonia Thunderbolt Cadet Squadron and two years as Commander of the Southeast Michigan Group, Director of Cadet Programs in both Michigan and Colorado Wings, and Chief of Staff for Colorado Wing. Phelka has also commanded region-level Encampments and Cadet Leadership Schools, soloed CAP Cadet students at the Johnson Flight Academy, served as a Seminar Advisor for both National Cadet Officer School and National Staff College at Maxwell AFB, AL, 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. Phelka is a graduate of Civil Air Patrol’s National Staff College and the Wing Commander Course, both held at Maxwell AFB, AL.
Col Phelka earned his private pilot license in 1998, and is currently a commercial, multi-engine, and instrument-rated Certified Flight Instructor, CAP Cadet Orientation Pilot, and CAP Check Pilot Examiner with over 1,500 flying hours. Phelka also holds Master Ratings in the Command, Logistics, and Cadet Programs specialty tracks; Senior Ratings in Flight Operations, Stan/Eval, and Plans & 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.
Outside of Civil Air Patrol, Col 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) between 1995 and 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 of Arts degree from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, with major fields of study in Economics and German Language. He and his wife, Dr. Amanda Phelka, have two children.