News From Terre Haute, Indiana


June 18, 2007

Historical Perspective: Pilot, under vigilant eye of FBI, made trip to Terre Haute

During a three-week stretch in late June and early July 1937 — 70 years ago — world gliding champion Peter Riedel was an American idol.

Performing at the eighth annual National Soaring Contest in Elmira, N.Y., sponsored by the International Soaring Society of America, Riedel’s astonishing rolls and loops while piloting a Rhonsperber Sailplane amazed spectators daily.

Four years later, Riedel was under the vigilant eye of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and its zealous director J. Edgar Hoover while making a cross country auto tour which included a stop in Terre Haute to visit with some new relatives. Accompanied by his new bride, art teacher Helen Klug — a Terre Haute native, Reidel was on his honeymoon.

Born in Saxony, Germany, in August 1905, Riedel was raised by an uncle after his mother committed suicide in 1914. In 1920, he attended his first glider championship meet at Wasserkuppe, taking with him an unfinished biplane glider of his own design.

He continued to compete, soon earning the confidence of philanthropist Karl Kotzenberg. As a result of that friendship, Riedel’s college education at Darmstadt Technical University was paid for and he earned an engineering degree in 1927.

Riedel trained to be a commercial pilot, securing a license in 1928, but jobs were scarce. Instead, he went to work for meteorologist Walter Georgii at Darmstadt Research Institute for Soaring Flight, conducting scientific tests. He stayed for six years.

Beginning in 1930, Riedel’s research flights were instrumental in the discovery of the up-current fields under cumulus clouds. He developed “cloud-hopping” to achieve spectacular gliding heights and distances. He also established innovative methods of thermal soaring without assistance from clouds.

Peter continued to engage in competitive gliding, establishing a world distance record of 142 miles in 1933 and winning the Hindenberg Cup at Wasserkuppe.

Reidel was primarily responsible for the popularity of gliding in Germany. By 1937, Germany had 50,000 glider pilots compared to only 500 licensed pilots in the U.S.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News Poll
AP Video
Raw: Truck, Train Crash Leads to Fireball Judge Ponders Overturning Colo. Gay Marriage Ban New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die Raw: Israel Hits Gaza Targets, Destroys Mosques Raw: Lawmakers Scuffle in Ukraine's Parliament Obama Signs Workforce Training Law US Airlines Cancel Israel Flights Raw: MH17 Passenger Remains in Kharkiv, Ukraine US Official: Most Migrant Children to Be Removed Raw: Israel Bombs Multiple Targets in Gaza Crash Victims' Remains Reach Ukraine-held City Raw: Massive Explosion in Gaza City Diplomatic Push Intensifies to End War in Gaza Police Probing Brooklyn Bridge Flag Switch NYPD Chief Calls for 'use of Force' Retraining Airlines Halt Travel to Israel Amid Violence VA Nominee McDonald Goes Before Congress CDC Head Concerned About a Post-antibiotic Era
NDN Video
Justin Bieber In Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot Samsung Pre-Trolls The IPhone 6 With New Ad Jimmy Kimmel Introduces His Baby Girl Swim Daily, Nina Agdal in the Cook Islands Guilty Dog Apologizes to Baby for Stealing Her Toy Prince George Turns 1 and is Already a Trendsetter Train Collides With Semi Truck Carrying Lighter Fluid Kanye West Tells-All on Wedding in "GQ" Interview Tony Dungy Weighs in on Michael Sam Scarlett Johansson Set To Marry In August New Star Wars Episode XII X-Wing Revealed Obama: Putin must push separatists to aid MH17 probe Michigan inmates no longer allowed to wear orange due to 'OITNB' Adam Levine Ties the Knot Sebastian The Ibis Walks Beautiful Bride Down The Aisle | ACC Must See Moment NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong Faces of Souls Lost in Malaysian Plane Crash 105-year-old woman throws first pitch Man Creates Spreadsheet of Wife's Reasons for Turning Down Sex 'Weird Al' Is Wowed by Album's Success

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -


    March 12, 2010