The occasion was the 40th anniversary of the introduction of the Christen Eagle, an aerobatic aircraft that he designed and manufactured as a competitor to the Pitts Special.
Hundreds of Eagles have been built and flown in the past four decades. The Eagle II, a two-seat version, are still very active in aerobatic competitions around the world. Only a few single seat versions have been built.Having been a successful aerobatic pilot and former US Aerobatic Team manager, Frank knew what he wanted in a competitive airplane. He incorporated a number of innovations in the Eagle, including his inverted oil system that is now found universally in aerobatic aircraft.
The Eagle has had a profound impact on the world of aerobatics. It also became one of the most revered aircraft in the world of airshows when Frank talked Charlie Hillard, Tom Poberezny and Gene Soucy into retiring the Pitts Specials they were flying as the Red Devils Aerobatic Team and replacing them in 1979 with Christen Eagles. The group then became known as the Eagles Aerobatic Team.
What seemed to impress Frank the most during the day he spent at AirVenture this year, and in the evening ceremonies where he was recognized for his accomplishments, were the pilots who came up to him all day long and told him “You changed my life.”
Whether inspired by the Eagle Aerobatic Team, by building an Eagle, or by flying in competition with an Eagle, there are a lot of people who expressed profound appreciation, respect and esteem after shaking his hand.
It also was announced at AirVenture, while officials presented the Curtiss Pitts Trophy for Outstanding Aircraft Design, that Frank Christensen will be inducted into the Aerobatics Hall of Fame this fall.