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Frank Beagle (11/27/1943 - 05/12/2013)


Frank was born on November 27th, 1943 in Portland, Oregon. His family relocated to Kankakee, Illinois in the 1950s. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1962 through 1966 and was married to Louise Tanguay from 1965 to 1974. Their daughter, Catherine L. Arnett (Beagle), was born in 1967. He married Nancy Kaitschuk on July 9th, 1977. Their son, Frank R. Beagle, was born in 1986. Frank was a technician at Copier Dynamics in Chicago for 25 years, retiring in 2011.

A proud and active flying enthusiast, Frank began launching model rockets as a young adult. By the early 1970s, he was building and flying model aircraft. He took up skydiving, pursued a pilot’s license, and in 1971, made his first trip to the EAA Fly-in Convention. Frank found solid friends in the local skydiving group and spent many sunny days at Koerner Airport in Kankakee, flying up in a plane and floating down with his parachute. A skydiving-related injury, while seeming traumatic at the time, was the impetus for the first step on a road that became his ultimate mission.

At the 1976 EAA Fly-in, ultralight pioneer John Moody displayed the first powered hang glider. Frank was there to see it. Soon he built his own ultralight, an Easy Riser developed by Larry Mauro, in his one-car garage. His first flight took place in 1979 at Koerner Airport. The craft was foot-launched and was powered by a Chrysler Westbend 820 engine originally used in go-karts. It wasn’t long before he added landing gear and a sling-style seat. Frank became one of the earliest ultralight pilots in the Midwest.

Frank learned how to fly through trial and error. He began to share experiences with other ultralight pilots. Those connections led to a core group of ultralight enthusiasts that developed safety seminars in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and Wisconsin. His knowledge, booming voice, and entertaining personality made him a natural emcee and he became a regular announcer at safety seminars in several states.

In the mid-1980s, organizers of the EAA Fly-In invited Frank to announce at Oshkosh, a task that brought him great pride. For over 25 years, he helped organize and maintain the ultralight field. In the announcing tower, he kept up a constant stream of banter about any aircraft that came into his view. People came to know Frank as ‘The Voice of Ultralights’.

Frank’s log books detail nearly 3,000 hours of flight time. He recovered the wings of his Easy Riser twice and went on to own a Pterodactyl with a side seat and, finally, a Challenger. Frank earned a Basic Flight Instructor certification and taught over 50 people how to fly. He received his sport pilot license in 2008.

Frank was greatly loved and will be sorely missed.