What Happened To Claudio?
The Mystery of the Waspair Tomcat HM81
Updated: Jul 4, 2022
We're putting together the events around Curt's final days and the tragic accident in the microlight (or ultralight in US) that killed him.
Curt loved his Tomcat HM81. He'd bought it in the May of 1981, possibly after reading this article in Flight Line magazine:
The company that designed it were called Waspair and it was run by 3 brothers, John, Robin and Terence Haynes with Robin being tasked as the designer.
According to Terence Haynes in 1979 Waspair (UK) declared bankruptcy in 1979 his wasn't the end of the runway for Waspair though.
In his short essay 'Waspair History - The Beginings' Terence says
"I’d come across some American magazines that had pictures of the latest California craze – ‘Sky surfing’ on delta kites skimming a few feet over sun-kissed sand dunes with adoring bikini-clad girls looking on.
More interesting to John [Haynes] was that it seemed there was no inspection or permissions needed – ideal!'
Waspair moved operations to America and sold the ultralights through a distributer named Mid-West Microlites.
We've spoken to Chip Erwin, who was the American distributer of the Waspair Tomcat. When asked about the safety of the Tomcat Chip told us:
'Ungainly maybe, unstable not really. Unsafe? About as many ultralights were in that era. Every brand had accidents and the majority of them were pilot error.'
Curt spoke to Robin in 1981, asking technical advice for his Tomcat. In the newspaper article of Curt's death Robin is quoted as saying that he will review the wreck and provide an accident report on it.
From The Argus newspaper December 24th 1981
So far we've not been able to find a crash report on the accident.
Here is some original footage of Curt flying it in San Jose around May 1981. Curt had flying lessons you can see that Curt was a competent pilot:
His family and friends were worried that the microlight wasn't safe. Unlike the later models of the Tomcat (pic below), Curt's ultralight didn't have a joystick control or instrument dials.
On the videos and stills of Curt's Tomcat it appears steerage was accomplished by levers on either side of the seat:
(Photo credit: Linda Davis copyright 2022)
We're hoping to speak with Robin Haynes soon.
If you have any more information on the Tomcat, or you were a friend of Curt Claudio's we'd love to hear from you!
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org