Aerospace Industry Mourns Passing of Aviation Icon Rudy Frasca

Rudy Frasca beside his beloved Curtiss Kittyhawk some years ago. The aviation icon sadly passed away on May 11th. (image via Frasca International)

We are sad to report the passing of Rudy Frasca two days ago on May 11th. The 89 year-old Frasca was an icon in the aviation world, having built up a formidable flight simulator business, Frasca International, which he founded in 1958. He was a former naval aviator, with a passion for warbirds, having owned, restored and flown a half dozen vintage military aircraft during his life, including former RCAF Curtiss Kittyhawk Mk.I AK905, ex-RAF/Indian AF Supermarine Spitfire FR Mk.XVIIIe’s TP276 and TP280, ex-Italian Air Force Fiat G.46-3B MM52823 and former U.S. Navy FM-2 Wildcat Bu.86746 to name a few. He has had a major impact on flight training around the world, and was a vivid presence on the warbird scene for decades. He will be missed by all who knew him. Frasca International made the following press release about his life yesterday, which we thought our readers might appreciate reading…


May 12,  2020. Urbana, IL.

The International Aerospace community mourns the passing of Flight Simulation icon and aviation enthusiast, Rudy Frasca. Frasca passed away on May 11, 2020 at the age of 89. He died of natural causes.

Rudy was born on April 19, 1931 in Chicago, Illinois. He was one of six children of Anthony and Jenny Frasca. He and his wife Lucille (Matern) married in 1955 and moved to Champaign, Illinois where Rudy started his business and where they raised their eight children together.

Rudy Frasca 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, 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 in 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 has loaned several of his aircraft to the EAA museum so that the general public can enjoy them.

Rudy Frasca’s magnificent Supermarine Spitfire FR Mk.XVIIIe TP280 as seen at Oshkosh AirVenture in 2006. (image via Wikimedia)

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 companies contributions to the simulation 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 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.

Fly West, Rudy!

About FRASCA International:

Frasca International, Urbana, Illinois, USA, is a world leader in the design and manufacture of Flight Simulators, Flight Training Devices and Simulation components. Frasca has a proven reputation for delivering high quality simulation equipment and leads the industry in simulation technology such as aerodynamics simulation, flight test, data acquisition, visual systems, NVG simulation, control loading, motion systems, motion cueing, manufacturing & fabrication, electronics design and more. Since its founding in 1958, over 3000 Frasca simulators have been delivered worldwide. Frasca is ISO: 9001:2015 certified.

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