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Peter Riedel - Soaring Pioneer

Soaring pioneer Peter Riedel passed away on November 6, 1998 at his home in Ardmore, Oklahoma. Riedel was the last living participant from the 1920 Rhön Competition at the Wasserkuppe. He was 93-years old at the time of his death.
– by Raul Blacksten

More on Peter Riedel

Peter was one of the top soaring pilots in the world during the 1930ús. He especially had a great influence upon the development of thermal soaring techniques in the U.S. He was a German Air Attaché during the pre-WWII years, assigned to Washington. As such, he was able to attend and compete in our National Championships at Elmira during both 1937 and 1938. There he not only was the highest scoring pilot at both of those Championships, but he introduced the concept of tight circling in thermals to the U.S. pilots. At that time, the U.S. was doing a great deal of ridge soaring and was only learning how to use thermals.

During the latter part of WWII he discovered that Hitler was not that great, and he defected from the attaché job while posted in Sweden. After some difficult years, he managed to emigrate to the U.S. where he found employment with both Pan Am and TWA in station management. After retirement, he was still active in gliding, and he managed the Southwest Soaringús operation at Rockwall, Texas during 1971.

Martin Simons published a great book in 1997 covering Peterús flying years. It is titled, German Air Attaché, and it includes many interesting photographs and intriguing stories of U.S. gliding history.
– Dick Johnson

Posted: 12/1/1998


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