P.F. Beck; An extraordinary life closes – 8/28/19

Builders:

Don Harper called with the word that P.F. Beck had passed this afternoon. It was a short call. There was nothing either of us could say that would begin to express the loss of a human being like P. F.  Don, who has been close to P.F. for decades simply said “They broke the mold when they made him.” I agreed. In 30 years in aviation, I have never met another aviator with the spirit and qualities of character of P.F., and it doesn’t seem likely I ever will. If you never had a chance to meet him, it will be very hard to appreciate the loss, but trust me, it can’t be overstated.

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Above, P.F. Beck in the black shirt and part of his loyal crew at Barnwell. I shot this the last hour of Corvair College #43 last november. These people brought you Nine Corvair Colleges.  – think about that; not just 20% of the Colleges held, but because of their size, 35% of the people who attended a College did so at Barnwell.  There were very detailed events, and the typical budget was over $7,000, but not a dime went to these people, they did it all as a show of South Carolina hospitality, their belief in the Corvair as an excellent way of getting more active builders in experimental aviation, and a particularly strong pride in their home airport, a facility they devoted a large part of their lives to.

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Above, P.F holds The Cherry Grove Trophy in front of his Pietenpol.  This was taken at Corvair College #21.  Left to right are Joe Horton,  Dan Weseman, P.F. Beck, and Mark Langford, They were the first four of the eventual eight trophy winners.

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Above, 2011, the fourth recipient of the trophy was PF Beck. We made the official presentation to P.F. at the dinner at CC#21. He eventually had hundreds of flight hours on his Corvair powered Pietenpol. Not only did he host 9 Corvair Colleges he attended a number of others He was a first class gentleman, incredibly modest, and a skilled aviator with decades of experience. For these reasons, everyone felt that he was the outstanding candidate for the Trophy in 2011.

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For a look at the EAA film about the 2013 Barnwell College, Which has P.F. in it,  click here: New EAA video on Corvair College#27, Barnwell 2013.

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Above, Brodhead 2013. P.F, was the head of forums that year. P.F.’s positive influence on homebuilding went well beyond South Carolina.  P.F. was a source of encouragement and factual information to countless builders. He made homebuilding a welcoming and friendly setting.

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Above,  P F Beck, seen above in his Pietenpol, This was at CC#19, the first College we held at Barnwell. P.F. eventually flew more than 300 people in his plane.

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A simple photo from Corvair College #19, with a detail that says a lot about P.F.’s personal style; If you look closely, the catering trays are almost empty. This is because at P.F.’s events, he always made certain of two things; he was always the last person in the chow line, and he lead everyone in a prayer of thanks before sitting down to eat.

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Col. John Nerges, above left, thanks P.F. Beck for his flight in P.F.’s Pietenpol. These types of smiles were what being an aviator was all about to P.F.

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Blue Skies and tailwinds P.F., you will always be missed.

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24 Replies to “P.F. Beck; An extraordinary life closes – 8/28/19”

  1. Can’t think of a nicer person I’ve ever known, was glad to call him a friend. Sorry to hear this.

  2. I met him one time at a CC in Barnwell. He made me feel welcomed and was, I think, the nicest guy I’d ever met. I was hoping to return with my completed , Corvair powered, Rans S-20. I took too long to finish. I will always remember him. Blue skies and tailwinds, my friend! RIP.

  3. This is very sad indeed. After my second year at the Barnwell CC I stayed Sunday after the session had ended and helped Don and PF clean up (with a couple of other participants). Both years I was up early and swapping stories with PF each day. As I was getting ready to leave that second year I walked over to say goodbye and he took my hand, gave me a quick hug and said, “Even though you are a darn Yankee you are welcome here anytime you want to come down, you don’t need to wait for the college.” I don’t know that I have met a better man.
    Rest in Peace Brother, our world is not as bright without you in it.

    1. PF, liked everyone, some people because it was just good manners, but he really had a fond spot for anyone who tried to put back a little more than they found, because this was the way he approached everything. A year round invasion to a Yankee is high praise indeed.

  4. P.F. will be missed. Just a great guy to be around, very kind and open. Took Edi for a flight in his Piet which she thoroughly enjoyed.

    1. Harold, many people think of you as cut from the same cloth as PF, men of similar outlook and unshakeable positive disposition. To have had the both of you, at the same place, was really an indicator that we were on the right track, and had the right people in our work.

  5. Had the privilege of attending the last 3 colleges at Barnwell and having some unforgettable experiences. I bought my core from PF at the first one and was thrilled to return last year to show his engine come to life. In that way I feel like his memory can live in on Corvair history. He was the kind of guy you go into homebuilding to meet, a warm soul of gentle countenance. My condolences to his family.

  6. So sorry to here this. I have attended every Barnwell CC since 2013. He has always met me at the door with a smile and a handshake. He will be missed.

    1. Lane, I was thinking about the Sunday at the College where the builder had the medical emergency, and how together and calm PF stayed, all through the next days in the hospital when the man took a serious turn for the worse. He showed his quiet strength and true colors when the pressure was on. His positive attitude didn’t even waver for a moment.

  7. I have known Mr. P.F. Beck since attending my first Corvair College in the fall of 2010 and every year since. I will never meet another like Mr. Beck, Sad for your loss Family Beck, may God and his Angels quickly give you peace.

    Farewell P.F.

    ….A yank from Ohio

  8. So glad I met P.F Beck, he was a gentleman without compare. Whether it was a quiet word of encouragement, a smile and a handshake at arrival to a college, or even a gentle suggestion to “try the grits”, he always knew what to say or do to make the day better for everyone he met. This extended to his airport family and everyone who ever knew him. I’m am better for being able to count myself among those who did. Tailwinds Mr. Beck, and Thank You.

  9. William,
    Thank you for sharing some of your stories about P.F. with me at Oshkosh. I am sad for having never met him. Sorry for the loss of your friend.

    1. Scott, He was a sterling man, he affected a lot of people, particularly in the Corvair building world. You will not meet the man in person, but you will get to know many of the people who did, and are better for it.

  10. So sorry to hear William. It’s been a tough year having to reconcile the loss of people who define the quality of our own life.

  11. William, I am so sorry to hear of the loss of P.F. I never had the opportunity to meet him but was able to “know” him through your writings and stories. It was clear he was a trusted friend to many. I have no doubt his legacy will continue through Flycorvair and the stories from those who knew him. Take care my friend.

  12. William, I second your comment about Harrold and P.F. Both are people of exceptional character.
    I remember P.F. for his kindness and soft spoken southern hospitality. He made my visit to Barnwell most memorable. My one and only ride to date in a corvair powered airplane was with P.F in his Pietenpol. It was an experience I will never forget, and fondly remember for the rest of my life. R.i.p
    Mike Maury

  13. William, it’s with a sad heart that I heard of P. F. Becks passing. I first met him at Broadhead Wisconsin at the Pietenpol reunion in 2002. A fine gentleman that had a tail wheel release bracket for hand propping airplanes. We started talking and at the time he was close to having his Pietenpol ready to test. I told him I had a Piet partially complete and was going to use a Corvair engine. Well he turned me on to a guy named Wynne who had Corvair conversion parts and had all good things to say about the Wynne process. P. F. And I would talk on the phone and emails on my progress of my airplane. He would tell me of the rides he had given in his Piet, and the smiles on kids faces when he took them aloft. The long story short is he inspired me to finish my Piet with a lot of the process he used. A great man and inspiration. Gods speed P.F. Rest high on that mountain.

    Gary Bell

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