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Frank Lilly - In Memoriam

Frank Lilly, resident of Raytown, Missouri, a good friend and long time soaring enthusiast, died in his sleep September 24th at the age of 74.

Frank's passion for soaring started when he saw John Ryan's Sisu at a Nationals in Wichita, Kansas in the early 60's. Ryan's Sisu was a work of art. Frank said the finish on it was so good that he had great difficulty determining what it was made of. That day he decided he had to soar and he had to do it in a Sisu.

A few years later Frank had a Sisu of his own which he only recently parted with. Frank loved competition and cross country soaring. I found out from others he holds just about every state record for Missouri. Frank has twice pulled off the amazing feat of soaring to Hutchinson, Kansas on a Saturday and soaring back home the following Sunday! He amased 17,000 hours of flying of all sorts.

Six years ago I moved to Kansas City. I think Frank saw at once that I loved to fly my HP like he once flew his Sisu. From the first day I showed up, Frank went to great lengths to make sure I got to fly. He would come early and help me put the HP together and was always ready to tow. On a good cross-country day he would make the rest of the club wait when I was ready to launch.

In my first two years in Kansas City the club was just hanging on. Frank and I had many conversations about what needed to be done to revive it. Everything we discussed he did. He was there to tow all the time. He bought and restored a 1-26 for the club. He restored and recovered our 2-22 making it better than new. On top of all this he got a CFIG and started instructing. In 1997, for the first time in many years the club took on a new student with no prior flying experience. Frank took care of all our airplanes from washing their windshields to cleaning wings to arranging for annuals. The day before he died he spent on his back cleaning oil off the belly of the tow plane. Above all Frank took it upon himself as a personal responsibility to see that the club flew safely.

By leonard@sky.net

Posted: 11/1/1998


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