Rudy Frasca Passes


Flight simulator inventor Rudy Frasca passed away on May 11 of natural causes. He was 89. Frasca’s name was familiar to generations of students who were trained and tested on flight simulators built by the company he founded in 1958. He is survived by his wife, Lucille, “who was always his strongest supporter,” as well as his eight children and 18 grandchildren.

According to his company, “Rudy left the Navy [after the Korean War] 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.”

An avid pilot, Frasca collected several 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,” the company reminds us. “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.”

Frasca International is now a thriving company, offering fixed and full-motion simulators for helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. Here are some of Frasca’s products over the years:

Marc Cook
KITPLANES Editor in Chief Marc Cook has been in aviation journalism for more than 30 years. He is a 4000-hour instrument-rated, multi-engine pilot with experience in nearly 150 types. He’s completed two kit aircraft, an Aero Designs Pulsar XP and a Glasair Sportsman 2+2, and currently flies a 2002 GlaStar.

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  1. Serious question and not to belittle Mr Frasca. When does a Flight Training Device become a simulator?

    I would have thought Edwin Albert Link’s trainer was one of the first simulators. First built in 1929.

    • I believe that the author was referring to him as AN inventor in the flight simulator field, not as the guy who originated it. Note the in the second paragraph he is cited as being unhappy with the the then current state of the art in the field.

  2. The image of the 737 simulator is reversed. Engine #1 is on the right and engine #2 is on the left. Look at the fire control panel just aft of the thrust levers.

  3. Mr. Frasca was a fine gentleman, a true friend of aviation. I taught some of his sons at Southern Illinois University Aviation Technology, and would visit with them at aviation trade shows. He and I were seated together at an aviation related banquet at the university and I was able to get to know him. He shared his experiences while flying his “Felix the Cat” US Navy fighter in the movie “Midway”. He will be missed….