#216 Tom Peghiny and Taking the First Leaps into the Unknown

Tom flying the Peregrine

“In comparison [to the flying scene] the rest of my life has been a disappointment.” –Tom Peghiny.

This quote came into my inbox a few months ago from Hugh Miller at Cross Country magazine with the words “you’ve got to interview Tom!” If you’ve seen the incredible film “Big Blue Sky” which documents the early days of hang gliding you’ll recognize Tom Peghiny (if you haven’t- watch it, it’s awesome). Tom started flying hang gliders at the age of 13 in 1969. He was the youngest person to compete in the first US Nationals at Sylmar, CA in 1973. He was the youngest person at the first World’s in Kossen, Austria in 1975. And Tom says he’s even more passionate about flying now in his 60’s than he’s ever been. In this episode Tom discusses his early days in hang gliding, the progression of the sport, the influence of RC flying on his understanding of air, the need for safety and regulations, his experience at the World Championships in Kossen, and the design of the Peregrine, Kestrel, and Merlin wings. Tom shares his experiences flying on Mount Washington and other memorable moments in hang gliding and being a test pilot; and the wonderful and rather incredible history of flight that has absorbed his life, and the transition to paragliding in the past few years which has stoked his passion further. Enjoy this chat with a one of the godfathers of the sport!

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Takeaways

  • Early hang glider designs were crude but conceptually advanced, and they influenced the growth of the sport.
  • The first World Championships in hang gliding showcased the sport’s potential and led to the establishment of safety measures.
  • Tom Peghiny played a significant role in the development of hang gliding, both as a designer and a test pilot.
  • Hang gliding competitions and the camaraderie among pilots contributed to the growth and popularity of the sport.
  • The transition from hang gliding to paragliding brought new challenges and opportunities for Tom. Paragliding can be a lifelong passion, with individuals getting hooked on the sport and continuing to fly even in retirement.
  • Triangle flying is a challenging goal for many paragliders, as it requires stable conditions and low wind speeds.
  • Memorable flights and competitions can create lasting memories and connections within the paragliding community.
  • Financial stability in paragliding can come from various sources, such as sponsorships, involvement in related industries, and diversifying income streams.

Chapters

00:00 Introduction and Background

03:00 Early Days of Hang Gliding

08:03 Progression of Hang Gliding

11:51 RC Flying and Understanding Air

19:08 First World Championships in Cosen

25:03 Tasks and Performance at the Worlds

25:59 Designing the Peregrine Wing

27:41 Early Hang Glider Designs and European Influence

28:30 The First World Championships and Safety Concerns

31:14 The Hang Glider Manufacturers Association and Safety Measures

32:33 Tom Peghiny’s Background and Role in Hang Gliding

34:20 Thermal Flying and Advances in Hang Glider Design

36:33 Flying on Mount Washington and Other Memorable Experiences

41:13 Competitions and the Growth of Hang Gliding

42:45 The Impact of Hang Gliding on Tom Peghiny’s Life

48:50 The Dangers and Safety Concerns in Hang Gliding

52:27 Transition to Paragliding and Initial Apprehensions

54:35 Introduction to Paragliding

55:12 Early Experiences with Paragliding

56:11 Flight Design and Paragliding

57:19 Getting Into Paragliding

58:09 Becoming Hooked on Paragliding

59:09 Goals in Paragliding

01:00:29 Favorite Flight and Craziest Thing Seen in Flight

01:01:27 Paragliding in Retirement

01:02:17 Flying in Different Locations

01:03:30 Hang Gliding and Development Work

01:04:13 Memorable Flights and Competitions

01:06:56 Passion for Flying

01:08:06 Future Goals in Paragliding



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Transcript


Gavin McClurg (00:58.334)
your CV and bio, which are incredibly intimidating to tell you the truth. You've done a lot, but we have to start at the beginning, which is a long time back, 1969, 13 years old is when you got into this game.

Tom Peghiny (01:15.716)
Well, hi Gavin. It's when we first started. Yes, it started in aviation club in eighth grade. And in with my metal shop teacher, Mr. Baldwin and

We were going to build a Vokes plane, and he got us involved with the EAA, the Experimental Aircraft Association. And we did go to some of their local meetings in people's basements and things. But it was still kind of out of reach for some of that age. And in the back of Sport Aviation magazine, there was a little tiny ad in, right at the

Tom Peghiny (02:02.204)
batwing plans. And it was a Jim Foreman from Amarillo, Texas, and they were five bucks. And so we sent away for that one. Wow, look at that thing. And it was actually a set of plans from Richard Miller's bamboo butterflies, what he called it, which was a very early use of a regalo wing. And he was a very real minimalist person.

And so it was made out of bamboo and polyethylene plastic with a new miracle material, fiberglass tape. Because it just became popular at that time. So it was literally, you know, they were literally, and people did this quite a bit around the United States and the world, built the first real hang ladders, popular hang ladders out of bamboo and plastic.

Gavin McClurg (03:00.346)
I love, you're not the first person I've spoken with. Miguel down in Mexico who's been running the Monarca for forever invited, Borrata comes from a big family of aviation. You guys all talk about these plans, this $5 plan, and it was happening in Europe, it was happening in Mexico. It's just really cool that there was this kind of shared, I'm sure you guys didn't even know of.

other communities, right? I mean, in the beginning, it was, but it was kind of happening. There was just, you know, all these people around the world that were, that wanted to be birds. It didn't, it didn't start with DaVinci, did it?

Tom Peghiny (03:36.968)
So.

Tom Peghiny (03:40.884)
No, it didn't. And actually, you know, hang gliding goes back to Otto Lilienthal, of course, the inventor of flight. He didn't invent the airplane, but he invented flight in my book. But I consider Richard Miller to be, you know, the patron saint. Guru of modern free flight, if you will, because some of the things he did were right at the core of everything that kind of came out from it. And it did for did for me personally.

Gavin McClurg (03:46.062)
turn.

Gavin McClurg (04:00.046)
Mmm.

Gavin McClurg (04:10.59)
And that was his interpretation of Regalo's designs. Was that why? Or?

Tom Peghiny (04:16.704)
Yes, and so there's someone prior to that, Barry Palmer, that had flown up in Northern California, even earlier on, you know, and had some fantastic flights from some of the hills up in Northern California where they have no trees and things, and you know, going way up on the hill and you know, like three minute flights.

Gavin McClurg (04:23.825)
Yep.

Got him on my list here. Ha ha ha.

Gavin McClurg (04:33.474)
Huh.

Tom Peghiny (04:43.244)
and way higher than he cared to fall. That was the rule back in the, don't fly higher than you care to fall, was the original rule of hang gliding. But Richard Miller, he kind of pushed the concept of self flight. And Joe Faust kind of picked up that torch later, but he was also the editor of Soaring Magazine.

and a writer and I wrote about this on Facebook recently. If you haven't read, it's kind of a kooky book without visible means of support. It's a book by Richard Miller that you can still find on eBay, I think. And it's worth seeing. And he's got his regalo on the cover. I think in its Photoshop, well, it wasn't Photoshop back then but it was graphically put, his regalo wings put on the cover.

And I think it's a shot from the Vasa Coupe during the 20s, the early glider flights they had there on the cover.

Gavin McClurg (05:49.642)
You know that film that you, well, Hugh put me on too, but you and I discussed it in the emails leading up to this, The Big Blue Sky, which is just phenomenal. There's so much cool footage, the original footage of the comps you guys were going to early on and the stoke. When you say Miller's original regalo design, is this the kind of Sweeney biplane type of thing? I think a regalo is more of the parachute.

Tom Peghiny (06:19.396)
No, it was literally a regalo biplane, except instead of wires and a king post or aluminum tubes, he built the compression and lift structure out of a Warren truss of bamboo. I'll send you a picture after this. And we built one. So.

Gavin McClurg (06:38.974)
Yeah. Similar to what Sweeney was flying in the film.

Tom Peghiny (06:45.38)
No, no, Sweeney, Terry Sweeney, another, we'll get back to more, he's gonna come up over and over again if we talk about the old days for me. But he built what was called a Chanute biplane. And just after Otto Lillienthal had been doing his flying in the Berlin area, Octave Chanute was a civil engineer in the United States.

that actually influenced the Wright brothers to use a box kind of a box kite structure, you know, vertical tubes and X bracing for the structure. And he did some very interesting flights out on the dunes of Lake Michigan. And he was before the Wright brothers and after a Lilienthal, but both Lilienthal and Chanute influenced the Wright brothers.

Gavin McClurg (07:43.758)
so spoiled these days. I mean, when I watched the big blue sky and just the happiness and joy of a three to 20 second flight and the work that must have been involved getting it back up the hill and all the people and this kind of thing. I mean, we wouldn't walk out the door to do that these days. It's incredible. I mean, they're...

Tom Peghiny (08:03.148)
No, but if you take it out of context, you know, the first few flights that I tried to do were very parachutal, you know, because you go kind of whee and you're scared and you don't run hard enough. Even Terry talks about that in his first, you know, flight. But yeah, I remember the first time that in the white kite that I sent you a picture of, hang tube, Brugallo, got up on a hill big enough, the wind was finally right. I finally had the nerve to do it.

Gavin McClurg (08:11.849)
Yup.

Gavin McClurg (08:16.598)
Sure.

Tom Peghiny (08:32.632)
accelerated enough to really get the thing on, you know, on plane and gliding and going.

Whoa! When, you know, we landed, because there was no one there telling you what to expect. There was nobody knew what to expect. I didn't know whether I was gonna fly and land in the run-out, we were on a steep ski slope hill with no run-out, you know, at the bottom. I didn't know if I was gonna fly off into the wires at the bottom, or the trees after the ski hut, and just the whole experience. Yeah, it was, you know.

Gavin McClurg (08:46.862)
Sure. Yeah.

Tom Peghiny (09:07.836)
transcendent really if you look back at it.

Gavin McClurg (09:11.586)
I mean, it's kind of wild to think to my neighbor and mentor forever, Nate Scales. He competed in the XLs in 2007, but his first flight here was.

89, 90, I want to say, on a paraglider. So he had done some hang gliding. But his first paragliding, he walked into a ski shop and there was a guy in the ski shop said, hey, anybody here want to go paragliding? I just got one. And so Nate said, yeah, I want to do that. And he took them out to the hill and they hiked up and Nate flew off and he...

came down to the LZ, the bottom of the hill, and the guy said, okay, well, now you know as much as I do. You know, he was the instructor. But it was just, you know, here, have a go. See what happens.

Tom Peghiny (09:57.956)
But yeah, right. Yeah.

Gavin McClurg (10:04.362)
And that was, you know, 20 something years after you guys got into it, you know, it was amazing. And that obviously, you know, at this point, Larry's flying a couple hundred miles. You guys are all the economy. You knew a lot about flight at that point, but it's amazing that, you know, the, it kind of went through the same trajectory with paragliding early on and nobody really knew anything.

Tom Peghiny (10:13.916)
Right.

Tom Peghiny (10:24.528)
One of the things that helped me very early on was that I had been flying models all my life. And I started flying U-Control models with my dad when I was about six, you know, the ones you fly around in a circle with a little two-stroke motor on it, a little low plug engine. And then we graduated into RC, radio control, very early RC stuff. And.

Gavin McClurg (10:29.843)
Yeah.

Tom Peghiny (10:49.564)
For some reason we were both really interested in gliders. So I started flying RC gliders very early on and And so that really helped me a lot later Not much later, maybe a year or so later in life starting to fly hang gliders because I knew about wind installs and reflex and weight and balance

Gavin McClurg (11:05.774)
Thanks for watching.

Gavin McClurg (11:10.295)
Eh.

And this is a common thing I've heard. I don't have any background with RC, but a lot of the really good pilots I've had on the show over the years got their start in RC. There must be a lot of knowledge buried in there and intrinsically to just understand what air is doing. I mean, I always think about that with kayaking, then the transfer over to flying, sailing, kitesurfing. Now you're using these invisible elements that help you understand Lee and Ed.

and flow, right?

Tom Peghiny (11:41.528)
Yes, exactly. But you were talking with Caliph Latourne, on a really good, and wow, what a well-spoken guy he is talking about things. But anyway, I had always tried to explain to people, particularly early on, I was this little kid, you know, and everybody else I was flying with was older than me. And I tried to explain to them, yeah, don't fly back there.

Gavin McClurg (11:46.764)
Yeah.

Gavin McClurg (11:51.27)
He is very articulate.

Tom Peghiny (12:08.86)
You have to imagine it like you ever see white water. It's white water air back there. You know, you don't want any part of that kind of, so. But so yeah, the visualization's the same. Well, it's the same, the visualization, the fluid dynamics of it. We're all viscously involved, you know, one way or another.

Gavin McClurg (12:09.258)
Mm.

Gavin McClurg (12:14.402)
Mmm.

You understood it.

Gavin McClurg (12:26.878)
I'm interested, you know, in the big blue sky and watching all you guys and all that original footage and, you know, there's this whole, the whole segment of the film early on is these little quick, you know, learning how to deal with wind and you're barely getting off the ground and you're having these little flights and.

It seemed from the film things start progressing pretty quickly, but in Europe, you know, in 1969 when you're doing that in 1970 and 71 before you go to your first nationals event when you're 17, was it on your radar already that, oh, once we make these better, we're going to be going thousands of feet off the ground because of the RC? Was that in anybody's mind yet that we're going to be flying big distances or was that still?

that hadn't formulated.

Tom Peghiny (13:16.812)
No, it was so fantastic to think of that. It had, I was still waiting, you know, for quite a while to get my first soaring flight in at all. And it was slopes were on a do not at Cape Cod. So no, I had no idea in the concept of people going up on the top of, you know, giant mountains and flying off hadn't. Bill Liskim did a great job.

Gavin McClurg (13:22.253)
Mm.

Gavin McClurg (13:41.622)
Huh.

Tom Peghiny (13:45.912)
on that film. Well, putting it into historical contexts too was really good instead of it just being all about the flying, I thought he really set the stage for what was going on at the time.

Gavin McClurg (13:47.758)
Amazing.

Gavin McClurg (14:00.062)
And do I also have it right that, and if I'm jumping ahead, just keep pulling me back, but do I also have it right that it seemed like, at least the way the film was structured, and those of you who are listening who haven't seen this, just Google it. It's the big blue sky, it is unbelievable, it's awesome. But there's, it seemed like when flight remained close to the ground and...

Tom Peghiny (14:04.648)
That's fine, whatever. Yeah.

Gavin McClurg (14:25.002)
maybe a little bit of soaring, but mostly just these little quick flights. It was, I mean, it looked still kind of hairy, but it seemed like the carnage, there wasn't that much carnage. It wasn't until they started going up and started using thermals. And then it seemed like it went through this really horrible period. Was that right more or less? Yeah. Okay.

Tom Peghiny (14:46.776)
No, that's correct. That's really correct. In fact, we went for a long time without anyone buying it. And Lloyd Leicher, who started Yushka at the time, which is now Yushpa, and originally it was a Southern California hang gliding association, it was the SEHGA. That's when I joined. He actually left the, he was the...

Gavin McClurg (15:02.421)
Yep.

Tom Peghiny (15:15.292)
director of the Soaring Association. And he felt he wanted to bring hang gliding into the Soaring Association because he felt there was so much knowledge in there that he could, they could, not him, could give to the hang gliding community to try to help us get through that first part. There was a lot of learning, but also since it was totally unregulated, people were doing whatever they wanted to.

Gavin McClurg (15:41.929)
Yeah.

Tom Peghiny (15:42.06)
And there's no one there, no club structure, no Yushpa, you know, para ratings, no nothing. So you could just buy one of these things in a kit, pull it together, go wherever you want. I'm going up on that biggest mountain, and I don't care what the wind does, you know. And you're going to be like, oh, I'm going to go up on that

Gavin McClurg (16:00.842)
Everything was just predicated on balls. It seemed like. Yeah, right. Yeah. Wow. I'm always reminded that sailplanes have been around for a while at this stage. They've been doing cross-country for a bunch of years. Was there much crossover and reaching out to that community? Was there much-

Tom Peghiny (16:05.329)
and wits maybe or lack of.

Gavin McClurg (16:28.982)
I mean, a subject that's come up again and again is, why don't we treat our sports, paragliding and paragliding more like sailplanes? Why don't we learn from them because they've done it longer? You know, they treat it more like commercial aviation, checklists, and it's more, I wouldn't say regulated, but I would say more, you're following a set of rules more stringently. It's not so cowboy. Yeah.

Tom Peghiny (16:56.08)
Yeah, more rules based. Yep.

Tom Peghiny (17:01.088)
Uh, the, you know, all the free flight could still benefit greatly from a little bit more of that. I wish I had a wrist checklist, you know, before I took off or on my knee or something, you know, it would be. Although I kind of like not having that. And I really don't like using radios, you know, um, but it's all part of it.

Gavin McClurg (17:09.778)
Yeah, right.

Yeah.

Gavin McClurg (17:26.358)
I think of my own kind of trajectory in flying. One of the things I was so impressed in reading your bio and your resume and what you've done is you started flying hang gliders at 13. You go out, you're the youngest participant ever in the first US nationals out in California and you're 17. How the hell did you survive at that age? If I had gotten into this sport when I was...

that age and that stupid. You know, I mean, I was a ski racer growing up and all I wanted was just speed. I didn't care whatsoever about my body. I was unbreakable, I was invincible. I was, you know, you're young. How did you survive?

Tom Peghiny (18:05.672)
Cough

I think there's two things. First of all, I wailed myself a bunch when I was a little kid. I would always, you know, like move real fast and then fall over a railing or something and break my arm. So I got a little bit out of that out of my system. And secondly, my dad chuckled about it. Dad and I, my father, Jim, we would call when you really smash a RC, it re-kitted itself. It turned back into a kit, you know.

Gavin McClurg (18:19.695)
Mmm.

Gavin McClurg (18:38.997)
Right? Gotta rebuild it.

Tom Peghiny (18:39.364)
And so I saw a bunch of that and I wanted no part of it.

Gavin McClurg (18:45.206)
Mmm. So you had the respect for it even early on. Interesting.

Tom Peghiny (18:46.576)
I just knew that it's like, yes, really did. No, I was a scaredy cat and it didn't stop me from doing it, but it really gave me a pause and it's still a problem I have this these days, even, you know, to this day. And then being a test pilot pretty much all my life. The combination of the two.

Gavin McClurg (19:08.67)
Yeah, I mean, we'll get into your business exploits and ultralights, because I don't know anything about ultralights in a bit, but there's a bit we got to talk to before we even get there. Tell me about this Cosen trip. That must've been mind blowing. You go to, I mean, Cosen is still this amazing site in the Alps and frequently been one of the places we go through on the ex Alps on the way up to the Kinsey.

Tom Peghiny (19:13.06)
Yeah, but.

Tom Peghiny (19:17.008)
You just fused. You just froze.

Tom Peghiny (19:33.3)
Gavin, you froze for about 15 seconds on me. I missed.

Gavin McClurg (19:40.678)
Oh, did I? Am I back now? Interesting. OK, I'll just start that one over again. Yeah, we got a lot to talk about in terms of your ultralight and business and aviation.

Tom Peghiny (19:43.43)
Yep. Yes, you are. It was probably the last 15 seconds.

Gavin McClurg (19:59.482)
endeavors after hang gliding and that kind of thing, but I know you've maintained hang gliding throughout your career and more recently in paragliding, but I'd love to hear about this trip to Cosen, your first worlds. I think you were also the youngest at the worlds, right? That's an amazing part of the world.

Tom Peghiny (20:17.776)
Yes.

Tom Peghiny (20:21.444)
It's an amazing part of the world. And to go there, you had asked me a question, first of all, how did I live through all this stuff too? I wanna say that right from the beginning, there are some really nice older folks that kind of took me under their wing. We started a company at Sky Sports. There was a man named Dan Pointer who had written the parachute manual. Ted Strong, who was very big in sport skydiving.

in the development of it. Mike Markowski, who's a very early hang gliding persona and designer. And then a guy named Ed Vickery. And Ed Vickery is the man who ended up taking over Sky Sports. And I went and worked with him. He was the first one to take a Papillon, which was the parasailing thing, and jump it.

you know, that had a glide ratio and stuff. And he saw the possibilities of development of hang gliding and really wanted to go all in on it. And he kind of took me under his wing too and sponsored me originally. I became the test pilot then the designer for the company. And he paid for me to go out to the Annie Green Springs Nationals, which was the first nationals out at Sylmar. And then he also paid for me to go to

the first world championships in Cushin. And so I went over there on my own, packed my glider up, took it to Logan Airport in Boston, over to the freight terminal, then went over, got on an airplane by myself and flew to Europe with, we had travel agents back then that would organize a lot of things. But got out of the plane.

You know, picked up my glider, huh, how am I going to get it to the train? You know, carried my glider to the train, got it on a train, got it on a bus.

Gavin McClurg (22:29.034)
And this is 1976, right? 74. What is your flight deck look like at the World's in 74? Ha ha ha.

Tom Peghiny (22:29.177)
carried it the f-

Tom Peghiny (22:33.124)
74, 1974, yeah.

Tom Peghiny (22:41.528)
Well, back there was a man named Irv, Mr. Culver, Matt Culver's dad, I forget his first name. Sorry. I think he was Yushpa number one, by the way, or USHJR Southern California Hang

Gavin McClurg (22:53.271)
Wow.

Gavin McClurg (23:00.394)
And you're, what is your, you sent me your number, well you're 200 something.

Tom Peghiny (23:04.993)
Bill Liskom, the man who made Big Blue Sky, his number is lower, so I always have to buy the first beer with him.

Gavin McClurg (23:12.338)
I'm 85179. I don't have much to brag about. That's amazing.

Tom Peghiny (23:19.393)
So anyway, he made one of the first commercially available hang gliding variometers, and that was the Flight Deck. The Wills guys, originally Bob Wills and Chris Wills, they used instruments too. And Pat Canaeri, who was a very early, very advanced hang glider pilot, had a ball, little ball, the company Ball Aerospace, started with.

Gavin McClurg (23:29.582)
Wow.

Tom Peghiny (23:45.928)
with variometers for sailplanes and things. And they had those too.

Gavin McClurg (23:50.73)
So your dad kind of got you into aviation or you guys were flying RCs together and stuff. What is he thinking at this point? You're getting on a plane by yourself to go to coasts and is he thinking, Jesus, what did I do here? Or is he psyched?

Tom Peghiny (24:02.768)
Now, both my parents, I grew up in a very open household. We had people coming in and out all the time. It was a big old house. I have two sisters and a brother. Jamie, we're the Jets, Jamie, Ellen, Tom, Susan. I don't know if that was on purpose. But we always had people sleeping over, and next door neighbors' kids would come to the house. We had a.

Gavin McClurg (24:23.267)
That's pretty funny.

Tom Peghiny (24:34.34)
exchange students, you know, from Africa and South America live in our house and things. So they were very, very open to it. And the only thing that my dad wanted is he didn't want me to tow behind a car. Because he was on the side, he was reading the Ground Skimmer magazine. It was called at the time. Now it's USHPA pilot, but, and he had read about the accidents there and he goes,

Gavin McClurg (24:41.935)
Cool.

Gavin McClurg (24:46.794)
Huh?

Tom Peghiny (25:03.332)
That doesn't look smart. That was about it. Now they let me go. And in fact, they signed the letter to, from my mom, which Bill talks about in the movie, was actually to the high school to let me go to the first national championships. And they let me out of school to go do that. And they were very supportive of the teachers I had, because I was a terrible student. I was very focused on flying stuff.

Gavin McClurg (25:05.166)
Okay.

Gavin McClurg (25:29.902)
And at this point, you're going over to the Worlds. Well, okay, first, how many people were in that event? That was the First Worlds, correct? Yeah, how many people were in that one?

Tom Peghiny (25:38.62)
Yes, it was.

Probably a couple hundred.

Gavin McClurg (25:45.298)
And what would a task be like in the 74 worlds? What were you guys trying to do?

Tom Peghiny (25:51.464)
Duration and target landing.

Gavin McClurg (25:53.522)
Okay, so it's kind of accuracy and how long you can stay up.

How'd you do?

Tom Peghiny (25:59.664)
And it was around, you had to go around some pylons too, but those basically.

Gavin McClurg (26:04.554)
And you brought over a kind of a new wing, a peregrine. Tell me about that.

Tom Peghiny (26:12.864)
We made a big jump right from regalo type wings with a Dickinson control bar so I can be accurate now that's a thing going on in hang gliding. We invented the hang glider so I did both parts right. We had access to early NASA wind tunnel reports and so did Roy Haggard by the way. He picked up on it too. There were NASA notes you could buy.

with the wind tunnel testing that they did to various, you know, wing shapes. And so I designed up a hundred, we didn't go by sweep angle, which is the proper way to determine it aeronautically. You know, hang gliding talked about nose angle. And the original regalos were 80 degrees, and the Sky Sports gliders were 90 degrees. So I

I said, why fool around? So I went up to 130 degrees. We had truncated cutoff wingtips, winglets on the tips, and they weren't rudders. We knew about winglets because we had read the NASA report on wit comb winglets that they use nowadays on airliners and everything. Shaped aluminum ribs, a keel pocket was shaped on it. It was actually quite advanced for the time.

Tom Peghiny (27:41.376)
And it was right up there with, as a prototype, it was rather crude because I was building them ourselves. But conceptually, it was really advanced.

Gavin McClurg (27:55.406)
And was that a big eye-opener for the Europeans when they saw it? Was that, you know, did that design start taking off? Okay.

Tom Peghiny (28:00.256)
Yes. No, no, it didn't influence, I don't think it influenced design, but it was so different. And I was really kind of a freaky little kid with my hair down to my shoulders. And I was still, you know, young and skinny. And I got there, Ed sent me over about a week early. So I was there before anybody for the US team or group got there. So it was, they got a lot of attention. Let's put it that way.

And there's a very nice movie about Kürsün, the first World Champ, Wirtmeisterschaft, Dachkentfliegen, they called it, you know. And the people in Kürsün who organized the event wanted to become the sanctioning body for the world, and I don't think that went anywhere, but at one time they thought they're going to. And it's a fabulous place to fly.

Gavin McClurg (28:56.234)
Yeah, it's fabulous. Are you, you sent me these awesome pictures, which will be in the show notes for the podcast when we put it up, but are you guys still flying in swing seats at this point or are you prone?

Tom Peghiny (29:09.336)
I was flying prone, but we did both and I enjoyed both. In fact, I thought I could actually fly better seated because I was more oriented. Despite the fact that when you're prone, you can swing your body and torque the glider to kind of sort of adverse shell, you can you can input proversia with the inertia of your body.

Gavin McClurg (29:12.039)
Okay.

Gavin McClurg (29:21.495)
Hmm.

Gavin McClurg (29:38.382)
So I, you know, from time to time, I go out and fly speed wings or, you know, single surface wings and that kind of thing. And I've flown single surface wings when it's a little bit rowdy. And I'm just, I've just got a hammock harness, you know, just a webbing harness. There's no, there's no.

padding, there's no safety or if you go in and going in hard, you guys flew everything like that back in the day. There was no reserves, there was no security in a sense. When I fly that, even on a pretty nice day, I just feel so naked and exposed and just, is that because of my training and I have that history of having a pad under my butt and a reserve of

somewhere or is that just, were you guys all feeling that way? Were you always just feeling, oh my God, this is, I'm so naked here.

Tom Peghiny (30:35.217)
Pretty early on I Wanted someone to develop a helmet for your butt

Gavin McClurg (30:42.89)
Hmm. Yeah.

Tom Peghiny (30:45.604)
And people actually did get spinal injuries flying seated, like, you know, a takeoff that didn't happen right. And so it was a thing, yeah.

Gavin McClurg (30:53.002)
Right, sure, yeah. Is this, when is the, holy cow, this is really dangerous. When did that start? When did the carnage, what year approximately were you guys starting to see, wow, this is a little out of control?

Tom Peghiny (31:14.502)
Probably.

Tom Peghiny (31:18.068)
1976, that's when the Hanglider Manufacturers Association was started. In fact, Bill Listcombe, name comes up again. He was the original secretary of the USHPA, but Mike Meyer from Will's Wing, Gary Valle, and a man named Tom Price, the fella that's in Big Blue Sky with the test rig. There was a van.

Gavin McClurg (31:20.009)
Okay.

Gavin McClurg (31:27.511)
Yeah.

Tom Peghiny (31:47.228)
where we were doing testing on top. He's also the guy that said, yeah, I was this Northrop trained aeronautical engineer and these punks, Haggard and Pagini, were doing all this stuff. He personally, in fact, Tom Price was probably the impetus behind getting it together because there's no structural testing prior to that I know of really.

Gavin McClurg (31:47.723)
Yeah.

Tom Peghiny (32:14.832)
It's certainly no aerodynamic testing. And so those people were giants in the creation of any kind of safety in the sport, those people I just mentioned.

Gavin McClurg (32:26.714)
You keep talking about, you know, you're kind of a punk kid, but were you, are you a trained engineer? You went to school for engineering?

Tom Peghiny (32:33.796)
No, I went right out of high school, right into sky sports at age 18. My dad wanted me to go to engineering school and I had several offers, um, you know, to go as well along the way, but I was already doing exactly what I wanted to. I couldn't go there to really take a course on aerodynamics for hang gliders. And I just went and he had told me, you know, very nicely, Hey, if you change your mind, whatever.

Gavin McClurg (32:59.748)
Hmm.

Tom Peghiny (33:03.036)
And you can make it without going to college. I kind of wondered about it myself. It's like four years out of your life where you're not doing what you want to do. You've got to study a bunch of stuff you're not really interested in. Yeah, go for it. It was very cool about it.

Gavin McClurg (33:16.866)
So you just learned it from the trait, just being interested and being involved.

Tom Peghiny (33:20.624)
Well, Mike Murkowski, Ed Vickery, Mike Murkowski was an aeronautical engineer. Yeah, I first worked with him. Ed Vickery was a mechanical engineer. I worked under Tom Price, who's an aeronautical engineer, Bob Keeler, who's an aeronautical engineer, Jim Reuter, who's an aeronautical engineer. So I was kind of like an expert tech and a designer. And then later on in life, you know, I had engineers that were working.

in the team I was leading or I hired some engineers too. So, but I was mostly a designer. The one advantage was that I was also the test pilot so we could cut through the nonsense. I could get the feedback immediately between what we were doing and the product development. And that's carried on till, you know, just recently. The hands-on stuff helps a lot too.

too.

Gavin McClurg (34:20.106)
And then was it 76 then when you guys started to make it to turn circles and getting tall?

Tom Peghiny (34:27.264)
No, at the first national hang gliding championships, I had never really, I had never thermaled at all and had barely gone off, I think I had gone off Pat's Peak in a couple places back here, you know, six, 800 foot hills. And I went right from there to Sylmar. And at that time, certain people were fluping enough gliders.

had flown enough, you know, Bob Wills and his gang in particular, um, and Pat Canaheri, I mentioned him before, and several others were already taking off from the lower hill at, at Sylmar and going up and going to the back, you know, yeah, I'm sure they're, those are the first people really doing it. And then also during the, uh, Andy Green Springs national championships, uh, Taurus Kseniuk, who

Gavin McClurg (35:05.079)
never already going up.

Gavin McClurg (35:09.358)
So that's 73, wow, amazing.

Tom Peghiny (35:22.868)
who was in the movie. He was a very early hero of hang gliding. That'd be another person for you to interview if you really want to get to it. He's interviewed quite a bit when Antony Matthews thing.

Gavin McClurg (35:22.869)
Yeah.

Gavin McClurg (35:38.186)
Yeah, Icarus 1 and Icarus 2.

Tom Peghiny (35:39.64)
Well, the Icarus and then the Icarus V was a super rigid wing that he built. Um, most of us are floundering around, you know, like doing a couple of circles and thermals and trying to stay up. And he came to the, he came and did a demonstration flight, um, wearing Jod purrs and World War I type flying goggles and a leather helmet. He just looked so cool.

Gavin McClurg (35:42.796)
Okay.

Tom Peghiny (36:07.356)
It took off and set a zikrus five up and just went, pew, just dotted out completely and left us mortals behind. And we're like, everybody stand in there with their mouth open and then came and, you know, didn't land on the spot, but darn near landed on the spot in the landing area too. So he was way ahead. So, but we were thermal. And I came back from that.

contest. In the second flight you wanted me to tell some stories you said. We went flew off of we had a group fly in we were invited to go to Mount Washington which you know everyone in the world supposedly knows that they recorded the highest you know wind on earth and it's the gnarliest mountain you know well in New England.

Gavin McClurg (36:39.603)
Yes, please.

Gavin McClurg (36:59.67)
That's big, big wave flying, right? That's where they fly sailplanes in the way there. Yep.

Tom Peghiny (37:02.532)
Yes, exactly. They have wave camps. Yeah, right. You know, it's the biggest mountain in the world in New England, if you will. And so we went up there and a whole bunch of us and the weather was right. We were invited to come up and. The way you would get up the front side, they fly the backside now, but we flew the front side and on the west side and landed in the parking lot.

And the way it got up, Mount Washington at that time, was a cog railway that was powered by a coal steam train. And uh.

Tom Peghiny (37:47.384)
A couple of people had flown off, it was dead, dead air up there, which is highly unusual. And we were flying, like I said, the West side. And I, my glider from, this was in 74, my glider from the Lilienthal event in May of 1974, hadn't gotten back from California yet. And so I borrowed my friend, Greg Reckter, my original hang gliding buddy.

standard Sky Sports Lark, but I did have my Vario, and I brought it with me, and I flew off, was gliding down, and I saw the steam train come up, and there was this big plume going up, and I thought, that looks like a thermal. So I went and flew over to it, and literally it was a thermal, either it created a thermal,

was a thermal check out or was the trigger for a thermal, big trigger on a pretty stable day. And I did my first real, real climb, and there were cinders flying around the sail and stuff from the steam train. And I remember seeing back at launch Terry Sweeney, jumping up and down, he was so excited to see it.

Gavin McClurg (38:49.922)
Yeah.

Tom Peghiny (39:15.836)
And my friend Greg was down in the LZ, went a little monocle watching me go around and around. But it was really the first time anybody had done a thermal climb in a hang glider on the East Coast. So that was just a gas. And that really happened. There was an article in Ground Skimmer Magazine about it, and I have witnesses. I know it sounds crazy, but it really did happen. And the article and...

Gavin McClurg (39:28.471)
Wow.

Gavin McClurg (39:32.098)
Not that.

Gavin McClurg (39:38.958)
..

Tom Peghiny (39:45.277)
Who's the guy who does the artwork in Yushiba Magazine? Does those cartoons like...

Gavin McClurg (39:50.234)
Oh, well Dennis does. Does he do the drawings too?

Tom Peghiny (39:55.232)
No, he did an article with, had me with my chin, you know, prominent in the, sorry, I don't remember his name.

Gavin McClurg (40:07.976)
Hahahaha

Tom Peghiny (40:09.256)
So it was called Fossil Fuel Flying, was the article. It was written up. Dave Martin, Dave Martin, sorry, the artist is Dave Martin. Boomer and Verrio or something like that. This is a cartoon.

Gavin McClurg (40:12.578)
That's great. Fantastic. Have you been a part of that whole? Dave Martin. Yeah.

Gavin McClurg (40:25.754)
Have you been a part of the whole, you know, flying off the, I don't know if it's Mount Washington or they're doing it, but they're flying to the coast, you know, the Cosmonauts and the Caleb students and some of that crew.

Tom Peghiny (40:36.6)
Oh, well, you mean, um, Andre Kuznetsov from Airquest. Um, yeah, Kuznetsov means iron worker in Russian, by the way. Um, yeah, he and Max Cotruro, part of the Russian mafia of paragliding back. No, I haven't done that yet, but, uh, I was there. I think I was there that day, but I did not go to

Gavin McClurg (40:39.91)
Yes, yeah, I can't because I'm not.

Gavin McClurg (40:46.929)
Ah, okay.

Gavin McClurg (40:50.583)
Yep.

Gavin McClurg (40:55.653)
You got it.

Gavin McClurg (41:00.39)
Cool. Well, we'll get into your parrot lighting in the crossover in a little bit, but a lot of wins start racking up in these years. What do you got, 30 something comp wins? So we're 36. Was comps, you know, you go off to the Worlds, was this just a, I gotta do more of this? Were you kind of hooked right off the bat?

Tom Peghiny (41:13.323)
36, yeah.

Tom Peghiny (41:23.852)
In the beginning, there were contests that were more like be-ins, really. 36 wins in some professional, but mostly not. We had contests at Middersill, at ski areas, Middersill and Cranmoor and other. But I also participated in some world, some national championships in other countries as well.

Gavin McClurg (41:30.115)
Right.

Gavin McClurg (41:35.886)
I'm sorry.

Tom Peghiny (41:51.804)
The Masters was the biggest one, but I had a big advantage. First of all, I had better gliders and was professional. And then a lot of the people that showed up, they didn't know how to fly. Did not know how to fly. They're, you know, peeing themselves on launch because they've never done, never been up here so far and landing downwind into the parking areas and into the trees and don't know the first thing about flying. So it wasn't, it wasn't that tough.

Gavin McClurg (42:00.279)
Yeah.

Gavin McClurg (42:04.925)
Really?

Gavin McClurg (42:10.387)
Oh god.

Tom Peghiny (42:22.935)
Basically knowing how to fly you're in the top three.

Gavin McClurg (42:23.438)
That's amazing. When you're sitting around with a new group of people and they ask you about flying in the 70s, what's a common story? What's one of the ones that kind of pops into your mind that, well, there was this one day?

Tom Peghiny (42:45.228)
Well, my favorite is the one about Mount Washington. I was in Africa, South Africa in 1976. And we're traveling between...

Gavin McClurg (42:48.235)
Sure.

Tom Peghiny (43:00.872)
Johannesburg and Durban. It rained a bunch and we're in this.

landscape of just wildflowers. Far as the eye can see, black dirt, you could push your hand down into, I'm sure you've been to places like that around the world too. And we're up, flying on a hill soaring, and like a golden eagle came by and started doing loops right near us. Didn't attack us, he was kind of playing or showing dominance or something, but that's something that sticks out. There's been so much over the times, over the years.

And the people is the best part too. We're so fortunate with the people that we meet through this support.

Gavin McClurg (43:46.742)
Yeah.

Gavin McClurg (43:51.186)
A bunch of characters in it, a bunch of weirdos. Yes, yeah, that's it. It's a pretty amazing community. But one of the reasons we're talking is that Hugh Miller, XC Maxx, sent me a quote of yours. I've got it written down here. I just love this. I'd love for you to just, you know what I'm gonna say. In comparison, the rest of my life has been a disappointment.

Tom Peghiny (43:52.924)
They're fantastic compared to the normal earthlings.

Tom Peghiny (44:12.456)
I know what you're gonna say.

Tom Peghiny (44:17.764)
Oh, no, that's interesting. That's interesting. I didn't think that's what he said that when he contacted me, it was because in the movie, um, I said it was bound to bring out the curious and the kooky. I didn't invent that came from a fire sign theater record. It was a Procter and Bergman, a comedy team there on the radio out California. They had a bunch of stuff like that, but back to that. Well.

Gavin McClurg (44:29.032)
Mmm.

Gavin McClurg (44:42.569)
Ugh.

Tom Peghiny (44:48.472)
I guess at that time I felt that way. I think my life since that point has really improved so much. I have a fabulous life partner and wife. That's just, her name's Natasha and she's just great. No, no, zero interest in that. We're just like chalk and cheese as far as that. But I'll credit her with saving my life.

Gavin McClurg (45:04.106)
Hmm. Is she a pilot?

Gavin McClurg (45:09.639)
Yeah, then my wife doesn't either.

Tom Peghiny (45:16.624)
I'd still be alive, but I wouldn't have a life. There's a difference. You know, and, and well, that's okay. Anyway, I don't want, but she wouldn't like it, but I could tell you that. And then the paragliding thing has just been fantastic for me too. It's been a rebirth and even more recently, what I, what I found out was I really missed the camaraderie of being in that type of group.

Gavin McClurg (45:19.95)
Oh, that sounds like a great story. Tell a little bit about that. Oh.

Okay.

Gavin McClurg (45:33.975)
Mmm, interesting.

Tom Peghiny (45:46.736)
And we had that in hang gliding at the beginning that people were just really artistic and crazy and wonderful giving and sharing with the whole HGMA, the whole industry getting together and solving the problem of stability and structures and safety and John Lake creating the hang system, which, you know, was the basis of the licensing and all of it. In fact, I was, I was in a position when the FAA was looking at regulating a sport pilot when that started.

They said, well, what about hang gliding? Nope, wait a second. I was on the committee, you know, the Aviation Rules Advisory Committee. No, no, that's well taken care of. They have the hang rating system. They have the HGMA. They have all this stuff covered. They have insurance. They have all, just leave them alone. They're good. I said, oh, okay, next, you know, kind of thing. So I was the mole for the sport at the right place in Washington.

Gavin McClurg (46:44.796)
Mm.

Tom Peghiny (46:47.012)
at that time. The only thing they did go into, which was really fair, is they didn't, there's no standard at the time, at least in the United States, the DHV probably did have it for tandem hang gliding harnesses. They said, no, you got to have that if you're going to take the unwitting public up in the air. But I digress.

Gavin McClurg (46:59.278)
Mm-hmm.

Tom Peghiny (47:15.26)
thing with paragliding now, it reminds me an awful lot of hang gliding in the beginning. That everybody gets together in the LZ, you know, share the ride in the van up, or most often in New England, we all hike up together. And so there's time for the camaraderie and the sharing of all of it. And I miss that. And I really have gotten that back now, which I personally just love. I love all the people that I fly with.

Gavin McClurg (47:20.982)
Hmm.

Gavin McClurg (47:36.42)
Mm.

Gavin McClurg (47:44.97)
Why did that go away in hang gliding? Was that just the way the sport went? Just less and less people doing it all the time?

Tom Peghiny (47:52.333)
It didn't, I went away from hang gliding, getting into the ultralight business and then eventually the light sport aircraft aviation business. So it wasn't in compare, it was a personal statement. I was overrepresented in that movie anyways. The only reason that he really chose me for so much of it is that I was a kid at the time so I remember a lot of it.

Gavin McClurg (47:54.779)
Oh.

Gavin McClurg (48:18.002)
Mm. Ha ha ha. The benefit of that.

Tom Peghiny (48:19.266)
You hang out long enough, you know, hang out long enough you're bound to get famous, right?

Gavin McClurg (48:25.074)
Let's talk about that carnage a little bit. He does a really good job in the film of talking about that. And there were some names, Anthony Matthews, there were some other names in the film that, of course, the Will's brothers, that I think were a big hit to the community, not just here in the States, but the world. But this was happening all over. There's the same stories in Europe.

in Australia and everywhere that the hand gliding is happening. Was there a point where for you personally it was just, okay, this is too much? Did it drive you away from it at any point or was it just part of what you had to put up with?

Tom Peghiny (49:12.646)
Um...

Tom Peghiny (49:16.624)
It never pushed me away to the point where I was going to stop, but it bothered me greatly.

Tom Peghiny (49:27.208)
Bob Wills was like Zeus, you know, to us mortals. He embodied it, you know, he's this big guy and really strong and intuitive and likable and nice and the best by far. And so yeah, you know, of course he bought it under a helicopter doing a Jeep commercial. So you could say, well, I'm not doing that. But another quote of mine in the movie is,

Gavin McClurg (49:29.695)
Yeah.

Gavin McClurg (49:39.954)
and good. Yeah.

Tom Peghiny (49:57.136)
that the spore was getting a bad reputation, rightfully deserved because aviation, I think I said aviation itself is exciting enough on its own without equipment failure.

That was my vote for how great the HGMA was.

Gavin McClurg (50:16.194)
Yeah. There's also an interesting thing in the film that I wrote down here that I wanted to ask you about. The reason a lot of people did is they thought it was safe. This is interesting to me because, you know, obviously now with the passage of time, no one gets in a free flight and is told that it's safe. I think newbies and novice pilots are...

certainly not completely aware because they're not around the carnage so certainly that you guys were but so I think there is some you know kind of willful ignorance but uh yeah just comment on that was it

Tom Peghiny (50:56.412)
Well, that's a quote from Ken DeRussey. And I never thought it was safe. What could you possibly think is safe about doing that? I mean, really. You know, man, if you want to be safe, don't get out of bed. Nothing's safe. Taking a shower isn't safe.

Gavin McClurg (51:03.555)
because of your experience with RCs.

Gavin McClurg (51:14.48)
Okay, so you guys, those of you who are in it, we're not thinking this was safe.

Yeah

Tom Peghiny (51:25.404)
You know, flying an airliner is safe, driving to the airport is not safe, riding a bicycle isn't safe, life is not safe. And also getting over the fact that everybody goes away, everybody's on the big list, that's part of freedom, I think, from all the nonsense with the cults. I won't go any further.

Gavin McClurg (51:53.948)
Fair enough.

Gavin McClurg (51:58.414)
Yeah, I imagine that has been just tough that, you know, your miles were going to remove that. Let's start over. I don't know where I'm going with that question. Tom, tell me about the crossover. So a few years back, you know, I don't know if I have my timing right here, but five or six years back, you start flying paragliders. You know, what I heard a lot when I was getting into the sport is, you know, or when I'd see, when I'd come across hand gliders, that kind of thing.

their whole thing with, oh, well, those things collapse. And our fear of paragliders is, yeah, you're going really fast and you need a big place to land. So there's these two kind of competing, ooh, I wouldn't wanna do that. For paragliders, it's, I don't wanna set those up. I wanna be able to put it on my back. There's lots of advantages to having something you can just have in a small backpack and walk up the hill. But they do collapse. They are...

Tom Peghiny (52:36.662)
Alright.

Gavin McClurg (52:54.922)
you know for hanging somebody has been in the sport as long as you have was there some real trepidation getting into Paragliding and we're pretty excited

Tom Peghiny (53:06.246)
Jeff Nicolay, who has been a constant theme.

in my life since high school. I knew him in high school. His daughter Gigi is a hang glider pilot now and is managing Morningside along with Mike Holmes up in New Hampshire, which is the best training hill in New England, or one of the best training hills in New England. He had gotten into paragliding quite early on and he had me flying early on. And I thought, these are kind of goofy.

They're cool. And in fact, I had my son Jeff. He'd done a tandem. And I had solo flown and stuff. So I always thought they were pretty neat. And in fact, Dan Pointer, a name that I brought up before, who was a writer and did the original pair manual, he knew of Dave Barish, who had done some of the very early, he called it slope soaring.

And did you know of him? He was the first person really to make a high aspect ratio cloth wing to fly off of a ski slope. And it was in the Catskills in the 60s. He didn't have a Jaybird parafoil. The classic parafoil was designed by Dominique Gebel. It wasn't one of those. It was kind of a three lobe thing.

Gavin McClurg (54:31.874)
Yeah.

Gavin McClurg (54:35.411)
Yeah, yeah.

Tom Peghiny (54:41.092)
look up, look it up. And actually Dan Poynter had taken me out back right when we were starting with a thing called the Vole Plane, which was a Jaybird parafoil skydiving parachute. And it must've weighed, you know, 80 pounds, the whole pack or something. And it didn't really wanna glide. But I think Dan Poynter might've been the person to say the term paragliding.

Gavin McClurg (54:43.118)
I think I remember a picture of that.

Tom Peghiny (55:12.008)
So I've known of the idea for a long time, and I've always thought it's really cool. But for me, it was 11 years ago, and John Gallagher, a local sky god here in New England, who's been paragliding forever, and his mentor to a lot of people, and a grouchy old man mentor to all people. He was an early hang glider pilot, he switched over very early.

I met him at the 100th anniversary of soaring. The Wright brothers went back to Kitty Hawk in 1911, and they thought gliding was so much fun that it could be a sport. And Lilienthal thought that too, by the way. And so John Harris, who started Kitty Hawk Kites, which is one of the first commercial operations for hang gliding.

in the United States, if not the world, and also a big part of the Yusha forever, and RRG had an event and he invited a whole bunch of people together. And I happened to be in the house with Roy Hager and John Gallagher and myself and several others. And so I had told John, okay.

Flight Design, the company that I've worked with and who was our business, you know, we were Flight Design USA and Flight Design, the manufacturer of those really cool carbon fiber airplanes, also was a very early brand of paragliders. And then they branched into making the first rigid wing carbon fiber hang glider called the Atos. Well,

Gavin McClurg (57:04.078)
So.

Tom Peghiny (57:07.472)
It's the same company and the same fellow, Matthias Betch, who's an early hang glider person from Europe, from Germany. And...

They were manufacturing swing paragliders in Ukraine where the airplanes were manufactured. And I had said one year, in the beginning of Light Support Aircraft, we sold a lot of airplanes. We were selling 60, 70, 80, 90 airplanes for the first few years. And it was a big business. And...

Gavin McClurg (57:37.569)
Oh.

Tom Peghiny (57:42.3)
They manufactured the paragliders there. And I had said to one of the managers who was a paraglider pilot, you know, I've always really wanted to really get into that. I just never have. And he said, you sold 70 of these things? Hey man, what color would you like? And so they sent me a Swing Arcus 4. It was really a nice glider. And a harness. And a reserve. And I took it up to Morningside.

Gavin McClurg (58:09.619)
Mm-hmm.

Tom Peghiny (58:12.476)
take some lessons with Jeff Nicolet, and he was, oh, you're a hang glider pilot, you know how to do this already practically. And of course I went forward and wailed myself a few times, and I thought, jeez, you know, I'm really not even hang gliding enough. If I take this up, I'm not gonna be able to be good enough at it to really pursue it. So fast forward to, and this was 2007, so fast forward to...

Gavin McClurg (58:24.789)
Oh

Tom Peghiny (58:43.284)
2011 and John Gallagher said, you own a whole hang, you own a whole paraglider kit and you don't use it? I'm at, well, go up to Morningside and take some lessons and I promise you the next time it's on at Cape Cod, man, I'll throw you off because anyway, and so he did and my first real flight in a paraglider, I think I flew for two hours or something because it was soarable that day, yeah.

Gavin McClurg (59:09.93)
Wow, your first one. You must have been hooked.

Tom Peghiny (59:15.)
It's the same kind of thing, really. You know, it's just a different vehicle. And I can actually think and fly at the same time, so it's always kind of helped. But yes, I did get hooked. And then I thought, well, yeah, these things are dangerous, but I'm just gonna fly at the Cape, or Mount Tom maybe when it's glass off. So of course, that's a slippery slope. And then I really got into it and started making friends and liking it. And then I bought a, what was it?

Gavin McClurg (59:16.67)
ensured.

Gavin McClurg (59:22.347)
Mm.

Gavin McClurg (59:37.088)
Yes it is.

Tom Peghiny (59:46.504)
Tequila 4 was my next glider, which is a really nice glider. And then now I'm flying a, I have a Delta for, that I bought used for, it was my glider for a while and now it's my beaded wing, although it's in very nice shape. And an Alpina 4. I'm really into paragliding.

Gavin McClurg (01:00:08.79)
Awesome. And is this, you know, 55 years of aviation and all the different stops along the way, which we've barely brushed on. Have you got any goals? Are there things you want to do with your paraglider that maybe you've never did with your hang kit?

Tom Peghiny (01:00:29.436)
I'd really like to do some triangle flying. It's pretty hard to do. We don't get the stable conditions for it, or at least low wind conditions here in New England, all that much. That's something that...

Gavin McClurg (01:00:34.999)
Mm.

Gavin McClurg (01:00:39.501)
Mm.

Gavin McClurg (01:00:43.19)
So you guys are usually going one way as you're going downwind? Yeah.

Tom Peghiny (01:00:45.552)
Yeah, definitely do. And I will say that between hang gliding, really the hang gliding stuff...

I spend a lot of time sitting out in the field, you know, waiting for other people to come and get you. And so I don't have a lot of tolerance for that. But I do love the flying. In fact, I recently, you know, we sold our company two years ago, a year and a half ago. And I work as a consultant now for several companies, but not a lot, like 10, 20 hours a month, which is perfect.

And people asked, including Natasha, so what are you going to do when you're retired? I'm going to go paragliding. No, no, I mean really. What are you going to do when you're retired? I'm sorry, I don't think you're listening carefully. I'm going paragliding. Every time the wind is right somewhere, I'm going there. And I have since.

Gavin McClurg (01:01:46.574)
I heard that.

Tom Peghiny (01:01:55.72)
since I retired and I just love it. And, you know, going on bike riding when it's not good for paragliding, and I love it. And it makes me feel like a kid again too, and it's really motivated me to get in better shape. And I've always kind of put some effort into it anyways, but I love it.

Gavin McClurg (01:01:58.21)
That's awesome.

Gavin McClurg (01:02:17.058)
Hmm, that's awesome. Yeah, that's really nice to see that you've still got all the passion after all this time.

Tom Peghiny (01:02:26.06)
as much, maybe a little more. I don't know. I really love it. And we've toyed with the idea of moving to southern Spain, because Natasha really loves Spain, and the flying is great there, all year round.

Gavin McClurg (01:02:29.882)
Really? Wow.

Gavin McClurg (01:02:45.85)
Yeah, a little more reliable as well in the northeast, I think.

Tom Peghiny (01:02:50.576)
Northeast isn't that great. It's good, but you have to drive a lot. It's always blowing some way somewhere, but you know.

Gavin McClurg (01:02:57.334)
Have you been out in the Northeast your whole life?

Tom Peghiny (01:03:03.152)
I was based here my whole life, but I did spend a lot of time in Chattanooga off season, a train in Chattanooga, if we call it training back then, hanging out, flying, and doing development work. And then I spent a lot of time in Southern California doing development work out of Torrey Pines, some with Tom Price at Albatross Sales.

who was the fellow that helped start the HGMA. And he was both a Northrop, he was a trained aeronautical engineer and a sailmaker. So he was uniquely qualified. And I worked with him, he was great.

Gavin McClurg (01:03:48.046)
I'm gonna put you on the spot here, two questions. Answer them however you, in whatever order you want. When you think back of all the flying you've done, what's your favorite flight? Tell us all about it. And then also, what's the craziest thing you've ever seen in flight? And you can think about it as long as you want. We can edit this part.

Tom Peghiny (01:03:50.652)
All right.

Tom Peghiny (01:04:09.376)
Oh, no, that's fine. The two are what I mentioned before. But, you know, I flew in the... Some of the real memorable stuff from the beginning was being at the Canadian National Championships up in...

Gavin McClurg (01:04:13.429)
Oh, very done.

Tom Peghiny (01:04:27.728)
up in the Rockies there.

Gavin McClurg (01:04:32.846)
Is this golden?

Would that have been golden?

Tom Peghiny (01:04:40.788)
Uh, Kokeny Bay, Kootenay Bay, Kootenay Bay up there. That's where they had it. And, uh, that was just so different. And I got my, got on my little Volkswagen bus, you know, drove to Montreal, took a left turn and ended up out there with my glider on the roof. Um, and then I was, after I won the masters championships in 1977,

Gavin McClurg (01:04:42.09)
Hmm. Kunipay. Oh, okay. Yeah.

Tom Peghiny (01:05:09.704)
Bill Bennett's Delta Wing Kites, and Bill Bennett, Rich Piccarelli, who was a very early person in skydiving, base jumping, and hang gliding. And with Roy Haggard, Bill Bennett, and Rich Piccarelli, they developed the reserve parachute too, by the way. And we all went to Rio together, and because we had won and we brought a bunch of gliders.

And then we went to Mendoza, Argentina for the Argentine National Championships. And being down there was just really special.

Gavin McClurg (01:05:51.01)
Mm.

Tom Peghiny (01:05:53.048)
And then also after the World Championships, I drove around Europe for six weeks with Mike Harker, who was, I guess, the first TV program that was broadcast, pan-European TV broadcast, was a sports show. And Mike Harker, one of their first, or, you know, one of the first

Tom Peghiny (01:06:23.092)
brave American serviceman living in Garmisch flew a hang glider off the Zuchspitze, you know, it was on TV. So he became instantly famous all over Europe. He was a very handsome guy and looked like a model, like a classic Marlboro man model with a period mustache, you know, and he drove an American van. And like I said in the naked pilot interview thing,

I rode around with him going back and forth between Austria, Germany, and Corvara, Italy, and the Dolomites in his van. And we were smuggling t-shirts from Italy through to Germany and gliders from Germany to Austria and Italy. And that was awfully special, too. We flew, we were supposedly the first people who flew off from behind Neuschwanstein Castle, too.

Gavin McClurg (01:06:56.442)
So far, we've been working on ideas and sort of an experience for the community to experience this. But I think we're going to have to wait and see.

Tom Peghiny (01:07:20.1)
He was first and I think I was second. And that was real special too. And that's right when I saw my first windsurfers, I don't know, a lake that was out in front of there too. That same trip. So I, you know, I don't know. So I had a whole bunch of stuff. My last flight was my favorite, you know, I don't know.

Gavin McClurg (01:07:22.843)
Wow.

Gavin McClurg (01:07:31.662)
Oh wow. That's all good stuff. Just the only one we can remember at this stage, but so many. Tom, thanks so much, man. I appreciate you sharing your, just a fraction of your history. We could talk for hours about more and more of it.

Tom Peghiny (01:07:45.088)
That's good.

Tom Peghiny (01:07:54.684)
Yeah, we'll catch up sometime.

Gavin McClurg (01:07:56.194)
catch up and we'll hopefully do some flying together. Maybe you can come out to one of our events out here in Utah this fall and be a part of that community. It's pretty outrageous.

Tom Peghiny (01:08:02.203)
I would love to.

Tom Peghiny (01:08:06.572)
I would love to do that. I've not got a lot of experience with big air yet. So.

Gavin McClurg (01:08:11.498)
Well, this is no time like the present, my friend. Let's do it. And there's good triangles out here. We fly some good triangles. Tom, thanks, man. Appreciate it.

Tom Peghiny (01:08:14.452)
Okay. Thanks.

Tom Peghiny (01:08:20.413)
Excellent.

Tom Peghiny (01:08:24.009)
My pleasure.




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