Known as the first test pilot for the original Cessna 172 prototype, Emil “Fritz” Feutz ’41 was a pilot, aerodynamicist and flight test engineer. His lifelong ambition was to be a pilot, and his notable career spanned decades in the sky.
Feutz was born July 1, 1923, the son of Wallace and Lelah Feutz of Mexico, Missouri. He enrolled at Missouri Military Academy in 1937 and was once roommate to former Academy President Charles Stribling ’44.
Following his time at MMA, Feutz attended the University of Missouri, where he pursued a degree in engineering. Although he originally enrolled with the Class of 1945, he took a break from school to serve his country during World War II, enlisting in the U.S. Army in 1943. After the war, he returned to school and graduated in 1952 with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering.
Feutz’s aeronautics career began with Beech Aircraft Corporation, where he worked as an aerodynamicist and flight test engineer from 1950 to 1953. He then went to Cessna, where he flew as a test pilot from 1953 to 1957 — including the famed first flight of the original Cessna 172 prototype.
Following his time at Cessna, Feutz worked for McDonnell Aircraft Company in St. Louis. And in 1961, he founded his own flight test company — Testair, Inc. — also in St. Louis.
Feutz was married to fellow MU student Dorothy Jean Estep, an employee of LIFE Magazine, on Sept. 18, 1949, and together they had four children. He died on Sept. 1, 2013, at his home in Columbia, Missouri.