Frank “Woof” Beagle's lifelong love of aviation started as a young adult when he began launching model rockets. By the early 1970s he was building and flying model aircraft, and then took up the sport of sky diving, pursued a pilot certificate, and, in 1971, made his first trip to the EAA fly-in convention.
Frank, EAA 141198, built his own ultralight, an Easy Riser, after seeing John Moody fly the first powered hang glider at the 1976 EAA fly-in. The craft was footlaunched and powered by a Chrysler West Bend 820 engine originally used in go-karts. It wasn’t long before Frank added landing gear and a sling-style seat and became one of the earliest ultralight pilots in the Midwest.
Frank learned how to fly through trial and error and shared his experiences with other ultralight pilots. The connections led to a core group of enthusiasts who developed ultralight safety seminars in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and Wisconsin. In the mid-’80s, organizers of the EAA fly-in invited Frank to announce at Oshkosh, and for 30 years, he helped organize and maintain the ultralight field. People came to know Frank as “the voice of ultralights.”
Frank’s logbooks detail nearly 3,000 hours of flight time. He re-covered the wings of his Easy Riser twice and went on to own a Pterodactyl with a side seat and, finally, a two-seat Challenger, Air Mail. He became a basic ultralight flight instructor and taught more than 50 people how to fly. He earned his sport pilot certificate in 2008.
Frank passed away in 2013 and will long be remembered for his commitment to safety and for the clever acronyms he developed to keep safety in the forefront of fliers’ minds. His favorite was, “Ya hafta AFTA (always fly the airplane).”