M.Simons The World's Vintage Sailplanes 1908-45
PETER RIEDEL’S GLIDER
At the first Wasserkuppe gliding competition, Peter Riedel, a schoolboy of 14, arrived. Oskar Ursinus at first accused him of having run away from home. He was told that Peter Riedel had brought an aircraft, the PR-2,
with him. had the full support of his parents, and his father had contributed the entrance fee for the competition.
For the best part of a month and helped by friends he made on the spot. Riedel worked to finish his glider, taking time off to go and watch the efforts of other contestants. Many of them, although older, knew very little more about aircraft. Some of the entries were built from scratch in four days. Some of them flew but were crashed because of inexperienced pilotage. Others would simply not leave the ground at all.
On 8th August, Eugen von Loessl brought out his biplane, a machine not greatly different from Riedel’s nearly completed effort. It flew well, covering a distance of 400 metres, but it needed modifications. These completed, next day von Loessl was launched again and seemed to be going very well, floating down the slope for 800 metres over the deep valley. Suddenly the horrified spectators, Riedel among them, saw something white break away from the tail and the little biplane dived steeply. Von Loessl, who had momentarily loosened his seat belt, was flung out of the glider about 100 metres above the forest below and was killed upon impact. Eugen von Loessl had been a member of the FSV, the original group who had pioneered the site.
Riedel worked on. On 20th August the PR-2 was ready, the skeleton of wings, fuselage and tail being covered with strong paper. It was insisted that he should fly tethered, to begin with. Short ropes, only a metre long, were tied to the lower wingtips. An instructor, Theo Suchla, volunteered to teach the boy to fly, while two helpers gripped the ropes to pull the biplane forward. Riedel progressed, switchback fashion, very slowly into the breeze with the crew tugging the leading strings. In this fashion he learned to keep fairly steady and the ropes were lengthened to three metres before he had to return to school. After a long and adventurous career in aviation, Riedel built a replica of his PR-2, and in 1974 flew it successfully at the Wasserkuppe.