2014 Inductees  

Frank “Woof” Beagle

Frank Beagle was best known as the voice of ultralight aviation. For 30 years, his booming voice rang out on the EAA ultralight flight line as he described the flying activity there. Along with his commentary from his observation platform, Frank emphasized safety and the appropriate way to get started in the sport. And it was ‘his’ platform!

As a founder of the Illinois Ultralight Advisory Council, Frank worked with the Division of Aeronautics to create a safe environment for ultralight flight in Illinois. He became involved in the early years because the accident rate for ultralights was causing regulators to consider restrictive regulations for the sport. His motto became, “It’s better to educate than regulate.” Soon, the Illinois Ultralight Safety Seminars became a model for other states in the region and Frank traveled to and helped conduct those programs as well as the Illinois program.

Frank was known for new safety slogans that he would introduce each year. One of the most popular was, “You hafta AFTA.” AFTA being “Always Fly The Airplane.” That addressed the problem that in emergencies ultralight pilots would sometimes forget to keep flying while they were sorting out the other problems.

Frank owned an Easy Riser, a Pterodactyl and later, a two-place Challenger. With them, he introduced many a prospective pilot to ultralight flying, construction and ownership. He flew and instructed on the grass at Koerner’s Field in Kankakee, Illinois and logged over 3000 hours.

Frank’s love for aviation included all forms of flight. When he announced activities at fly-ins around Illinois, he would often begin the morning with a recording of big radial engines that he would play over the loudspeaker. It was music to his ears.
Sadly, Frank left this world on Sunday May 12, 2013.


James “Dilli” Bildilli

Jim Bildilli, known to his friends as “Dilli”, has had a long and distinguished career in Airport Engineering with what was then, the Illinois Department of Aeronautics. A multi-engine pilot and an engineer, Dilli began with Aeronautics as and Airport Design Engineer and at the time of his retirement in 2003, was Bureau Chief of Aviation Safety and Education as well as Chief Airport Engineer. During these years, he shaped the development of airports across the state, fought to protect critical airspace and enhance airport safety.

Dilli is probably best known to pilots outside the Division of Aeronautics for his volunteer work with the Aviation Explorer Scouts and the Civil Air Patrol. During his 32 year tenure as a leader/advisor to Aviation Explorer Post #731, he mentored several hundred young explorer scouts in the field of aviation. Guiding the Post’s student leaders, lining up sponsors, setting up site visits, arranging member to work airshows or fundraise selling refreshments at aviation seminar, Dilli devoted much of his spare time to his volunteer work. One of Dilli’s signature accomplishments was to develop the Oshkosh Aviation Explorer Base Camp at Wittman Field. For this accomplishment the Boy Scouts of America Abraham Lincoln Council awarded Mr. Bildilli the Silver Beaver Award. Each year Dilli still brings a group of scouts to Oshkosh to work at AirVenture.

Students from the Southern Illinois University at Carbondale know Dilli for his role as an Adjunct Professor for off-campus Programs in Aviation. He has taught such programs as “Airport Planning” and “Aviation Industry Career Development” at a variety of locations. He has recently been involved with theSUIC Airport Safety Data Collection Program funded through the FAA. Through this program, Dilli has trained many SIUC students in the practical details of airport inspections and airport management.

We salute Jim Bildilli for sharing his passion for aviation, and for his efforts mentoring and educating the next generation. Congratulations on your induction into the Illinois Aviation Hall of Fame.

Marvin Campbell

As manager of the Sparta Community Airport and owner of Sparta Aero Services FBO in southern Illinois, Marvin Campbell touched the lives of many in the aviation community. A successful farmer before becoming manager at Sparta Community Airport, he has served as a mentor to many aspiring professional pilots and also as a bridge between the farming community and aviation. As a civic leader, he also fostered good relations between general aviation and the public and between his airport and the government.

Sparta Aero Services at the Sparta community Airport offered an unusual range of services for a small rural airport, including flight instruction, charter and full service maintenance. Through his business, Marvin has offered mentoring and employment opportunity to a number of Southern Illinois University aviation graduates, offering them opportunity to work and grow as commercial pilots in spite of difficult economic times.

Marvin’s expertise in farming and his presence on the board of directors of the Illinois Farm Bureau and other farming organizations enabled him to offer a unique voice in supporting aviation related activities that concern farming. Similarly, Marvin’s past service as chairman of the Randolph County Zoning Board and the County Planning Commission helped him to help assure that the best interests of general aviation were considered in the county, and to acquire additional land for the growth of the Sparta Community Airport. Working with the FAA and the State of Illinois Division of Aeronautics, Marvin was able to help Sparta Community Airport with a number of runway, taxiway, hangar and ramp improvement projects. He also oversaw the development of two GPS approaches. Marvin also was recognized by the City of Sparta for his outstanding service as airport manager. In 2013, Marvin retired as airport manager.

We salute Marvin Campbell for his mentoring efforts and his civic activities on behalf of general aviation, and congratulate him on his induction into the Illinois Aviation Hall of Fame.


Jeannie Hill

Jeannie Hill spent a lifetime volunteering in various areas of aviation. She served as a director, organizer, advisor and aide to numerous aviation organizations and events both with the Experimental Aircraft Association in Oshkosh and also here at home in Illinois. She had a gift for sharing her knowledge of aviation history as a writer, historian, film maker and lecturer.

Jeannie Hill’s involvement with aviation began as a teenager with a part time job waitressing in the Oshkosh airport diner. She started volunteering at AirVenture, which led to more than 40 years of volunteer work with the Vintage Aircraft Association, a part of the Experimental Aircraft Association. The Oshkosh diner is also where she met her future husband, Richard Hill, a pilot flying for North Central Airlines. The Hills married, and for Jeannie, the result was a total immersion in all things aviation.

The Hills restored several vintage aircraft, including a 1931 Bird biplane, which they then barnstormed around the country giving free rides to anyone interested. The barnstorming experience instilled in Jeannie a passion for sharing the gift of flight. She spent 8 years helping run the EAA’s Pioneer Airport and helped establish the Ford Trimotor passenger operation and worked at the museum as a docent. Jeannie served the EAA’s Vintage Airplane Association as a Director for over 30 years, including managing the Red Barn during AirVenture.

Locally, Jeannie donated her time and organization expertise to a number of organizations. She was a founder and board member of EAA Chapter 1414 at Poplar Grove Airport, a director and advisor to Vintage Aero Association and an advisor for the Poplar Grove Wings and Wheels Museum for many years. She was a director for the Corinne Kreissl Foundation of the American Cancer Society. The Corinne Kreissl Foundation ran the Lake Geneva Classic Car Rally, which included a 25 airplane fly-by each year as a fund raising event. There are a number of other organizations that she assisted that are too numerous to mention.

Sadly, Jeannie Hill passed away in 2013. Her husband, also an inductee into the Hall of Fame, preceded her in death. She is missed by many who worked with her.

Congratulations to Jeannie’s friends and associates on her induction into the Illinois Aviation Hall of Fame.


Carl “Chub” Elliott Wheeler

Born in 1911, Chub has seen a century of aviation history unfold during his lifetime. As a young man, Chub was a frequent visitor at Curtiss Steinberg Airport, now known as St. Louis Downtown Airport. He was hired as a line boy, and then learned to fly in an OX-5 powered Curtis Robin, obtaining his pilot’s license in 1935. He purchased the Curtis Robin for $450, and then earned his flight instructor’s certificate.

The flight instructor’s certificate was just a beginning for Chub. He and partner Bill Hart formed a flying school at Curtiss Steinberg airport and used the Curtis Robin to offer flying lessons. When the Civilian Pilot Training Program was created to train pilots in response to the impending war in Europe, Parks Air College became a training center. Chub became a flight instructor for Parks Air College first as a civilian, and then as a member of the Army Reserves flying PT-13s, PT-17s, PT-19s and PT-23s. He served at all four Parks Air College locations during the war, finally becoming responsible for the operation of their flight school at Cape Girardeau, MO.

After the war, Chub returned to East St. Louis to become the airport manager at Curtiss-Steinberg airport during 1946 and 1947. He became a corporate pilot flying DC-3s and Beech D-18s for Monsanto Company, later moving on to fly for Peabody Coal and the St. Louis Post Dispatch. When the Post-Dispatch transitioned to new equipment in the late 1950s, Chub retired from corporate flying and went to work for the Defense Mapping Agency, Aeronautical Chart and Information Service and finished his flying career with them.

In retirement, Chub became a founding board member and tireless supporter of the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum in Cahokia, Illinois. He has been a frequent speaker to museum and aviation groups, using his personal history and knowledge of aviation in our region to bring the past alive again.

We salute Carl Wheeler for his service to his country, and for sharing his passion and knowledge of aviation with later generations. Congratulations on your induction into the Illinois Aviation Hall of Fame.


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