News? David Prater

gyroplanes

FAA DAR Gyropilot
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I just found out that long time PRA member and gyro pilot, Dave Prater passed away last year. I heard a rumor and searched to sadly, find out it was true.

I spoke with Dave last year as I was working in my shop on his famous "Iron Rooster" MAC Bensen / Brock gyro (which now lives in Northern Wisconsin). Dave said he had retired and had issues with a magneto so close to his pacemaker while flying.

Dave was a long time PRA Board member and, IIRC, he was an officer at one time. Dave, along with the late, Bill Parsons were known as McCulloch engine experts. Bill and Dave developed the Super MAC,. a reed valved, steel cylinder sleeved conversion. At a PRA convention in Rockford, Illinois, in the mid to late 1970's, Dave and Bill trailered up their self designed and built MAC engine dynomometer. These guys were intense, they tested oil suitability and many other MAC advances. Dave and Bill lived in the Chattanooga, Tennessee area and were avid motorcyclists. Bill worked for (or possibly owned) the Chickamauga (SP?) Cycle Center. Dave was a drag racer and worked at the legendary Honest Charlie's speed shop. Charlie's was probably the largest speed shop in the USA , at that time. I once asked Dave if he ever met Honest Charlie and he replied "sure. I was one of his pall bearers." Dave became an A&P mechanic as a result of his gyro building experience. That experience lead to Dave becoming a co-pilot flying an Israeli jet for the Brock candy company.

Dave was known (and sometimes hated) for his daily dawn flight with his un-muffled McCulloch engine crowing like no rooster ever did. Truly a wake up call, if there ever was one. Daves lightweight and super Mac powered gyro (similar to Garry Goldsberry's) won , IIRC, every slow flight contest it was ever flown in. That gyro could fly at a walking pace.

Dave and Bill also chaired 2 delightful and well planned out PRA conventions in Tullahoma, Tennessee. Igor Bensen was still alive and a was a President emeritus. Igor was "allowed" to attend Board meetings. The meetings were held in the Beechcraft museum on the airport. The conventions held the Most Rotorcraft in Attendance-in-one-place Record and were outnumbered only by the military. I believe the highest count was around 130 rotorcraft at one time. Igor told me he had a dream to see one hundred off his gyroplanes in the air at one time. Igor's dream never materialized due to rainy weather and common sense.

I am really sad that a man who did so much for the PRA and the world of gyroplanes passed away and it took us over a year to find out. We will miss you David !.

All of the above is from my head, I would appreciate any corrections or additions. posting a picture of Dave would be appreciated.
Tommy Milton
 

DennisFetters

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Really sad to hear about the passing of Dave. Not many of us from the good-old-days left. We really had a good time back then.... frog pond, morning patrol, etc.
 

Chuck Roberg

Gyro's are more fun
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Tom sorry you lost another friend. I can still recall the sound of his Mac engine waking me up mornings at the PRA conventions.
 

Illini85

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This little sub unit of aviation really attracts a talented group of participants. Those poetic enough to dream and bold enough to take action. One sentence combining pacemaker and magnetos speaks volumes of the kind of no limits, boundary pushing individual I am sure he was. Sounds to me like a life well lived.
 

tcastro

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I'm so sorry to learn the passing of my friend Dave Prater, he help me a lot when I was learning to fly my gyro
RIP Dave.
 

Gyro28866

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Wow!
How did we not know?
Sorry to hear this.
The Mac is the most annoying loudest obnoxious sound around a campground at first light.
Good memories of the Iron Rooster.
 

Kevin_Richey

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...The Mac is the most annoying loudest obnoxious sound around a campground at first light.
Good memories of the Iron Rooster.
YES! Out @ El Mirage, Dave Bacon takes great delight in doing his crack-of-dawn flights in his Brock gyro, ensuring all attendees are woken.

I always thought when awakened by him doing so, that he seemed to be like the incessant mosquito buzzing in our ears, never going away...

Driving over a thousand miles from home to the El Mirage event entails two long days of driving, having to lay over one night along the way, w/ that sleep being not the best.

I would arrive on the lake bed pretty exhausted. He mentioned this to me a few years back, & I told him that I was so sleepy & in a deep slumber when his Iron Rooster is doing the "cock-a-doodle-doo".

It seemed as if he was making his passes flying right next to where I was sleeping out on the playa there. He laughed, telling me he makes a point of deliberately buzzing me repeatedly, to make sure I was awake!
 
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