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Community Human Interest Lifestyle

Tom Tschantz Flies Through Life

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Tom Tschantz stands next to his propeller while discussing his home-built ultralight. (Photo by Ashley Coffey/Full Sail University)

Tom Tschantz was born in 1947 in Northern Ohio. He was the child of hardworking parents that taught him the importance of using his hands. He did poorly in school and has the saying, “I brought home a D one time and my dad bought me a new bicycle.”

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Tom Tschantz flips through old photographs of his hometown in Ohio. (Photo by Ashley Coffey/Full Sail University)

Tom eventually dropped out of school in the tenth grade and joined the Navy. He spent two years active and two years inactive. He was stationed on the USS Oriskany (CVA 34) aircraft carrier, in Vietnam, where it was his job to work in the boiler room. During his last year on October 27, 1966, the worst fire in 20 years broke out on the Oriskany. 44 men died that morning. He said, “We would fire off aircraft 24 hours a day; we were always launching and receiving aircraft, but I worked down in the boiler room because I didn’t have any education, didn’t know anything about aircraft, so that’s where they put me”.

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Tom Tschantz sits in his home while telling the story about the day the USS Oriskany (CVA 34) aircraft carrier caught fire.

After returning home from Vietnam, Tom found himself a job as an ironworker. He worked structuring steel for 22 years, of which he enjoyed. Eventually, he found an interest in oil field work, which then led the way for him to work on constructing and painting water towers. He built his own rigging equipment, “With my background in construction and iron working I knew the rigging end of it”.

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Tom Tschantz does a walk around his homemade ultralight. (Photo by Ashley Coffey/Full Sail University)

 

When it comes to flying airplanes, Tom has the knowledge it takes to build a plane that can get him in the air. He has built three Kitfox aircrafts. Tom has a love for ultralight’s and has been featured in multiple magazines and newspapers. “I taught myself how to fly an ultralight and I loved it. From there, I went and got my private ticket in general aviation, got my instrument ticket, and then bought a big airplane, a Cessna 206 six seats with 200 horsepower”. He took the first single-seat ultralight he built to Oshkosh and won Reserve Grand Champion. He qualified to teach for flying ultralight’s from Quicksilver in California for four years.