Grover Frederick “Fred” Mirgle, a former chairman of the Aviation Maintenance Science (AMS) department at Embry-Riddle’s Daytona Beach Campus, died July 4, 2015, at age 70. He was a resident of Pelzer, S.C.
“It was very sad to hear of Fred’s passing,” says Chuck Horning, present chairman of the AMS department. “I consider myself fortunate to have had the chance to work alongside him prior to his retirement. The current success of the Aviation Maintenance Science department is due in no small part to his efforts, vision and dedication.”
Born Nov. 21, 1944, in Greenville County, S.C., Mirgle served in the U.S. Air Force from 1962 to 1966 as a missile maintenance technician. He joined Embry-Riddle in 1976 as a professor and administrator in the AMS department. A former student at Embry-Riddle (1968-69), he earned his Federal Aviation Administration Airframe and Powerplant certificate in January 1970. As an employee, he completed an associate degree in aviation maintenance technology in 1981. In addition to being an aircraft mechanic, Mirgle was an experienced pilot in a wide variety of aircraft.
Among his accomplishments at Embry-Riddle, he was instrumental in getting the AMS department named in honor of Charles Taylor, the main mechanic for aviation pioneers Orville and Wilbur Wright.
“He always felt that the Wright Brothers got all the credit for the first flight,” says University Archivist Kevin Montgomery, who was also a friend of Mirgle’s. “As a mechanic, he knew that the flight would never have taken place without the engine Charles Taylor designed and built. The reason no one flew before 1903 was because there was no engine with sufficient power-to-weight ratio to make the first flight possible. It was Charles Taylor’s ingenuity that made it happen. Fred felt it was important to recognize that fact.”
An advocate for the preservation of aviation history and aviation education, Mirgle was famous for shaking up the classroom with unique learning opportunities. “He was able to bring a Wright Flyer simulator to campus one year; and another time, he arranged with a New York museum to allow his students to restore some very rare radial engines from a 1929-30 Velie Monocoupe in the museum’s collection,” Montgomery says. The Velie Monocoupe had belonged to the original Embry-Riddle Company, and at Mirgle’s urging, the museum repainted the Embry-Riddle logo on the aircraft. “He did a lot to put Embry-Riddle’s AMT program on the map,” Montgomery adds.
During most of the 1990s, Mirgle represented the AMS department on the Faculty Senate. He also served several years as a faculty representative on the Embry-Riddle Board of Trustees. In honor of his contributions to the university, he was awarded professor emeritus status. He retired in 2009.
“During his 33 years at Embry-Riddle Fred touched the lives of thousands of students. There is little doubt that they all benefited from his wisdom and mentorship,” Horning says.
A memorial service was held July 10 at Oak Hill United Methodist Church in Belton, S.C. Condolences may be left at www.graymortuary.com. Donations may be sent to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Aviation Maintenance Science department, c/o Chairman Chuck Horning, 600 S. Clyde Morris Blvd., Daytona Beach, FL 32114. Please make checks payable to Embry-Riddle and indicate in the note field: “Fred Mirgle AMS Scholarship Fund.
For a full obituary, visit legacy.com.
View more Embry-Riddle Eagle death notices at alumni.erau.edu/passings.