William C. Fellinger
1938 ~ 2018
Captain William ‘Bill’ Fellinger, age 79, passed away at home with his wife at his side on July 21, 2018. Born the oldest of three siblings, Bill grew up in St. Paul where he attended high school. His athletic abilities were apparent when he found his niche as a pitcher on his high school baseball team. After high school Bill studied at the University of Minnesota for two years before enlisting in the Navy as an Aviation Cadet.
After earning his ‘Wings of Gold’ and commission as a USN Ensign, Bill was assigned to the East Coast Fleet flying the Lockheed P2V. Duty as a P2V pilot pre-positioned Bill to be a key player in the Cuban Missile Crisis, for maritime and anti-submarine reconnaissance were extremely important throughout the confrontation. By all definition Bill was a humble, brave, capable leader and patriot.
Bill was hired by NWA on April 26, 1965. He followed the typical vertical career ascension of that era, second officer on the 727 and 707 series, upgrading to copilot on both airplanes, initial captain checkout on the 727 and later pilot billets as captain on the DC-10, Boeing 747 classic, and the Boeing 747/400. During the Gulf War he flew NWA 747s with the Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF); performing military contract flights carrying troops and equipment into Saudi Arabia for Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. For which he was awarded an Air Medal.
The age 60 mandatory retirement mandate forced Bill to hang up his uniform for good on November 15, 1998. Thereafter he flew a Beechcraft corporate jet for Ryan Construction. Flying was always a passion with Bill and that didn’t stop with retirement or employment. He and Sam flew their personal Beechcraft Bonanza to Phoenix where they spent time in the winter months.
In addition to being a skilled aviator, Bill was an inordinate athlete and sportsman. Few sportsmen connect as closely with their dogs as did Bill to his beloved black Labrador retrievers Carbon and Ember. He also participated in NWA sponsored employee sports teams, excelling in Hockey and Softball. Bill played hockey until age 60. He made time with his father a priority and together with their many friends, they enjoyed golf, hunting and fishing. At the time of Bill’s passing he had just finished a three day golf tournament.
Bill and Sammy had a seamless relationship as spouse and friend. He was preceded in death by his parents, Gayle and William Fellinger. Bill is survived by his loving wife Sammy, his sister Gayle Diehl and Joellen Jones. He was interned at Ft. Snelling National Cemetery.
NWA Pilots at His Funeral