If you’re like most pilots, you’ve spent at least a little time in a Frasca simulator. Its manufacturer, Frasca International, marked its fiftieth anniversary this month by inviting more than 600 people to a celebration at its Urbana, Ill., facility.
Rudy Frasca, 77, an aviation icon, founded the company in 1958. His first product allowed the venerable Link trainer to be used for teaching VOR and ADF navigation. Frasca constructed his earliest simulators out of wood in the garage behind his home. While Frasca still visits the office daily, Vice President John Frasca and other children of Rudy and Lucille Frasca manage day-to-day operations.
The company’s products have continually evolved, taking advantage of changes in technology—whether in visuals, control feedback, or other areas. “We look at the sims to see what’s lacking, and address that opportunity,” John Frasca explains. What will appear next in the company’s products? “Right now the significant thing is ATC communication.” The company is working to develop automated air traffic control communication, including voice recognition.
Aviation colleges, traditionally a strong market for Frasca, continue to be a major market segment to the company. Other customers include flight academies, FBOs, and corporate clients, as well as the U.S. military. Helicopter simulations have accounted for a significant portion of the company’s recent business. Cessna Caravan and other turboprop simulators have been popular. Many incorporate Frasca’s TruVision, a 220-degree wraparound visual display.
The Frasca Air Museum, located on Frasca Field near Frasca’s headquarters and factory, includes displays that showcase the evolution of flight simulation, including one of Frasca’s first simulators as well as a Link Trainer. The museum also has an impressive collection of operable military aircraft, primarily from the World War II era.