...As Stellar Performers Are Remembered
Franklin, of Neosho, Mo., and Younkin, of Rogers, Ark., had both been flying in air shows since they were teenagers and had close to 70 years of experience between them. Franklin had learned to fly while sitting on his father's lap. When home alone at age 12, he arguably started his career when he snuck out and soloed. Shortly after, he taught himself aerobatics and began his 38-year formal air show career at age 19. In 1999, he became the first to add a jet engine to his 1940 Waco biplane, on which his son Kyle also performed as wingwalker. He also flew for several movies, including The Rocketeer. Younkin was a third-generation pilot. He learned to fly at the age of 16, and flew his first air show in a Decathlon at age 18, later adding multiple (more commercial) aircraft less familiar to the air show stage. He trained with Duane Cole, and showed a knack for aerial grace and showmanship. Aside from the Decathalon and his biplane Samson, Younkin flew aerobatics in a Learjet 23 and a Twin Beech that belched thick smoke from its twin radials while arcing gracefully through the sky. The popular flyers had booked a busy schedule through 2005, including performances at Oshkosh. Instead, funeral services for Younkin will be held at 10:30 a.m. today at the First Baptist Church of Fayetteville, 20 East Dickson Street in Fayetteville, Ark. A joint memorial hangar reception honoring the lives of both men will be held at the Arkansas Air Museum at the Fayetteville Regional Airport at 12:30 p.m. today.