|Mary Stan Feik was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1924, and has lived in Annapolis,
Maryland for a total of 52 years. After overhauling her first automobile engine for
her father when she was 13, she turned to aircraft engines and military aircraft at
the age of 18 and taught aircraft maintenance to crew chiefs and mechanics for the
U.S. Army Air Corps in 1942. Her efforts to study engineering in college were
rebuffed when a registrar told her, “We don’t take women.” During WWII, Feik became an expert on many
military aircraft and is credited with becoming the first woman engineer in research and development in the
Air Technical Service Command’s Engineering Division at Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio.
She flew more than 6,000 hours as pilot in fighter, attack, bomber, cargo and training aircraft. She qualified as a B-29 Flight Engineer and was an engineering analyst in test aircraft for flight and maintenance requirements. She participated in engineering “mock-up” evaluations for new aircraft proposed for production at the various aircraft manufacturing plants to determine flight and maintenance training requirements and authored pilot training and maintenance manuals for many of the military aircraft. She further wrote aviation-related reports in engineering and the physical sciences for distribution throughout the Armed Forces.
Mary Feik retired from the National Air and Space Museum’s (NASM) Paul E. Garber Restoration Facility as a Restoration Specialist. She restores and teaches the restoration of antique and classic aircraft and has participated in the construction of reproduction WWI aircraft. At the Garber Facility she was a member of the restoration teams that restored NASM’s 1910 Wiseman-Cook aircraft; the WWI Spad XIII fighter; and the 1930 Northrop “Alpha” mail plane.
On October 17, 1985, she was honored in the first group of Women in Aviation to receive recognition by the National Aviation Club. On March 12, 1994, at the International Conference of Women in Aviation, she was inducted into the Women in Aviation Pioneer Hall of Fame.
On February 24, 1996, she was the first woman to be presented The Charles Taylor Master Mechanic Award by the FAA in appreciation for dedicated service, technical expertise, professionalism and many outstanding maintenance contributions to further the cause of aviation safety. The award honors the Wright Brother’s mechanic and engineer. The recipient must have more than 50 years of experience.
Ms. Feik has had a life-long dedication to aviation education with the U.S. Air Force, the Civil Air Patrol and other aviation organizations and for this effort has received many awards including designation as a Life Member of the Civil Air Patrol, the Distinguished Service Medal, promotion to the grade of Colonel, and having the third achievement in the cadet program named for her; Maryland Aviation Pioneer; Katherine and Marjorie Stinson Award for Achievement, the Frank G. Brewer Trophy, and the Katharine Wright Award from the National Aeronautics Association; her portrait added to the First Flight Shrine at the Wright Brothers National Memorial; and many more.
Biography courtesy of the Maryland Commission for Women, 2015.
© Copyright Maryland State Archives, 2015