The international aerospace community mourns the passing of flight simulation icon and aviation enthusiast, Rudy Frasca, who passed away on May 11, 2020, at the age of 89 from natural causes.
Rudy was born on April 19, 1931, in Chicago, Illinois. He was one of six children of Anthony and Jenny Frasca. Rudy and his wife Lucille married in 1955 and moved to Champaign, Illinois, where Rudy started his business and where they raised their eight children together.
Rudy founded Frasca International in 1958. The flight simulator manufacturer started his aviation career when he began taking flying lessons at the age of 14 and soloed shortly thereafter. In 1949, Rudy joined the Navy and was stationed at Glenview Naval Station, Illinois, where he worked as a flight instructor teaching pilots on the early Link trainers.
After the Korean War, Rudy left the Navy to attend the University of Illinois, where he did research in Aviation Psychology and honed his interest in the field of flight simulation. The more he worked with that early generation of pilot training devices, the more he realized that there had to be a better way. In 1958, putting together everything he had learned from the Navy and the University, Rudy built his first flight simulator at home in his garage and Frasca Aviation was founded (the name later changed to Frasca International to reflect the emerging character of the business).
Over the years, Rudy collected many unique and antique aircraft, including a P-40, a Spitfire, a Wildcat, an SNJ, a T-34, a Fiat and a Zero replica. He loved all airplanes but had a special place in his heart for his Piper Cub. His love of grassroots aviation and passion for flying fueled the growth and success of his simulation company. In his flying days, Rudy was active in many aviation organizations and loaned several of his aircraft to the EAA museum so that the general public could enjoy them.
Rudy was a benefactor for many aviation organizations and had a special place in his heart for collegiate aviation (NIFA, SAFECON & UAA). Numerous awards have been bestowed upon him for his personal efforts and the company’s contributions to the simulation industry. In 2017, Rudy was awarded one of the first Pioneer Awards at CAT’s annual World Aviation Training Summit (WATS) for the significant impact he made on the aviation training industry.
Although Rudy had a great love for aviation and much success in the industry, his true love was his wife Lucille who was always his strongest supporter. Rudy’s greatest pride was his eight children and eighteen grandchildren.
Those who knew Rudy admired his friendly, outgoing personality, his sense of humor, his strong work ethic and his faith. He had a way of always looking for the good qualities in people. He treated others with respect and took great interest in getting to know people. Frasca employees knew he cared by the way he asked about them and took an interest in their work. He had a quick wit and loved to laugh. Rudy was truly larger than life. His contributions to the aviation industry will not be forgotten.