Steve Frank 1929-2014
We have received the sad news of the death of long-term member Steve Frank. Steve was an experienced pilot with a full gold badge, and he joined the Highland Gliding Club at Dallachy. In the days when we all struggled to stay up for longer than a circuit, Steve would take off in the morning and disappear in the direction of the Brown Muir, returning only towards the end of the flying day. When we moved to Easterton, however, he distinguished himself further by being the only pilot ever to land on the Brown Muir. That was quite a retrieve! Steve's Skylark 4, BLE, was not an easy glider to rig and de-rig, having a three-part wing with a very heavy centre section, but over the years we all got quite adept at doing so. Steve continued to fly until he turned 80, when he was no longer able to get insurance to fly solo.
Steve was born in Gloucesrtershire, and his family were much involved with country sports and racehorses. They nurtured his early interest in falconry, which became his life's main occupation. At his home on the fringe of the Sutherland moors, Steve bred and trained hawks and falcons. His birds were in much demand in far-flung places, and he always escorted any bird to its final destination. On one occasion he sold a bird to the Sultan of Brunei, who paid for him to travel round the world first class to deliver it. Steve, characteristically, kept his journey as short as possible to avoid adding to the cost. He also bred and trained Embercombe Pointers which were as much in demand as his birds, and he took a great interest in the wildlife on his moors. I once spent a magic afternoon with Steve watching Black-throated Divers preparing to nest on one of his lochans. Angie recalls spending a day hawking with him on the moors, finishing up with tea and a dram beside a roaring fire, and a supper of haddock on toast. Jim recalls that a local falconer had lost a radio-tagged bird,and Steve was engaged to find and retrieve it, which he did, locating its transmitter from a Bocian flown by Jim.
Steve was an absolute gentleman in every way, and we have been missing him ever since he gave up gliding. The club was represented at his funeral by Angie, Martin and Anne.
Stephen Wildman Frank 20 May 1929 - 3 October 2014.