Rudy Frasca, a pioneer in the flight simulation field who founded Frasca International in 1958, died of natural causes on May 11 at the age of 89. “Rudy was truly larger than life. His contributions to the aviation industry will not be forgotten,” Frasca International said in announcing his passing.
Born on April 19, 1931, in Chicago, Frasca had an affinity for aviation early on, taking flight lessons at the age of 14 and soloing shortly thereafter. He joined the U.S. Navy in 1949 and served as a flight instructor at Glenview Naval Station, where he taught on Link trainers.
Following the Korean War, he attended the University of Illinois and conducted research in aviation psychology. According to Frasca International, this helped sharpen his interest in flight simulation as he worked with the early generation of pilot training devices.
Combining the knowledge he obtained while at the university and in the Navy, he built his first flight simulator in his home garage in Champaign, Illinois. This proved to be the first step to launching the company that was first called Frasca Aviation.
After initially starting with trainers for general aviation, over the course of 60 years Frasca has built simulators for numerous collegiate, airline, and military training programs, delivering more than 2,600 devices to 70 countries.
Along with his interest in training, he became a collector of unique and antique aircraft, including a P-40, Spitfire, Wildcat, SNJ, T-34, Fiat, and a Zero replica. But, Frasca International added, he favored his Piper Cub. Many of these aircraft were lent to the Experimental Aircraft Association Museum for public display. Frasca also was a benefactor to several collegiate aviation organizations.
Married to his wife Lucille in 1955, he had eight children and eighteen grandchildren. Several of his children have worked in the family business, including his son John, who took over as CEO in 2011.