Minnesota Wing
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Wing Commander


Col William Hienz

Minnesota Wing Commander

April 2020 to current.



As Minnesota Wing Commander, Col Hienz is passionate about the missions and members of the Civil Air Patrol. The great work done across the nation by CAP volunteers inspired his vision and led him to accept the task of leading this great organization for the state of Minnesota.

Col Hienz built a legal career as an intellectual-property lawyer, including patents, trademarks, and copyrights. He established and led a patent-law team at a Fortune 50 company, eventually overseeing a staff of in-house and outside lawyers and paralegals and managing a large annual legal budget. 

In 2015 Col Hienz transitioned from a 25+ year legal career to pursue his passion for aerospace education and teaching when he joined a subsidiary of a legacy airline as a ground instructor. Today, he supervises over 100 simulator instructors and hundreds of more line pilots in training, from new hires just beginning their careers to experienced veterans.

Col Hienz joined the Civil Air Patrol in March of 2005. His leadership roles include Deputy Commander for Seniors for Viking Squadron, Viking Squadron Commander, Minnesota Wing Group Commander, and Wing Vice Commander, before being chosen to serve as the Minnesota Wing Commander in April of 2020. He has earned multiple awards, including two Commanders Commendations. He has had the opportunity to lead and mentor members from the youngest cadets to some of the most seasoned senior members while helping others fulfill CAP’s three missions and providing a vision to the units he has served.

Col Hienz has delivered Aerospace Education presentations at various levels, drawing on his life experience as an intellectual-property lawyer and CAP Legal Officer to provide unique insights. As a Training Officer at MN Wing Encampment and as a cadet O-Flight pilot, he has worked closely with cadets and parents at the squadron level, illustrating his commitment to cadets and Cadet Programs. Through Emergency Services, he has served as a Ground Team Member, Ground Team Leader, Mission Scanner, Observer, and Form 5 and Form 91 Pilot, participating in both training and real-world missions.

Just as Col Hienz draws on his legal, management, and aerospace background and experience to lead and make Minnesota Wing a stronger organization every day, he firmly believes in enabling people to bring and give their best.

“I firmly believe that the strength of CAP is in its people. Most of the people are in the squadrons – accordingly, much of the strength of CAP is in the squadrons.”

Many members of the Minnesota Wing are familiar with the above quote. It affirms Col Heinz’s belief that - from our 24 squadrons across Minnesota to our Wing-level staff - our organization abounds with leaders, future leaders, pilots, instructors, individual contributors, and many others dedicated to our three missions. These volunteers are brimming with energy, ideas, and enthusiasm.

Col Heinz considers it a great privilege to lead Minnesota Wing. As he continues his term as Minnesota Wing Commander, he will continue to promote the Civil Air Patrol and CAP’s missions while supporting the volunteers that make it all possible.

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