Central Regional Director Gary Peek Passes
USPA Central Regional Director Gary Peek, D-8884, passed away in his home in St. Charles, Missouri, on August 13. Authorities cited natural causes. He was 65.
Peek served on the USPA Board of Directors for 23 years, beginning with his first election in 1996. He was subsequently reelected to the board 10 times, making him the longest-serving member of the current board. He joined USPA in 1981 and amassed more than 8,200 jumps throughout his skydiving career. He was an AFF, tandem, instructor-assisted deployment and static-line instructor examiner and held a PRO rating. Peek served as a popular load organizer for several years at the World Freefall Convention. He stayed active as a tandem and AFF instructor until his passing and was a master rigger and commercial pilot.
Peek was also an active parachute and aerodynamics researcher. He began investigating fall rates in the early 1990s, building and then freefalling with an electronic barograph of his own design. It was during this period that he began working with Jean Potvin, a fellow skydiver and professor at Parks College of Saint Louis University, on a decade-long study of the opening loads sustained by parachutes. Peek designed and fabricated load cells and data loggers used not only in these projects, but also in the test programs of several parachute manufacturers and the military. Peek also designed a stabilization chute for a device used by the U.S. Army to determine local wind profiles prior to cargo airdrops. The Army has used thousands of these small parachutes, which are still in use today.
Peek and Potvin co-authored many publications that detailed their research results and insights. He also authored many other articles for skydiving and aviation magazines and gave presentations at 12 different Parachute Industry Association Symposiums. His extensive work related to parachuting is available on his website, pcprg.com.
Throughout his tenure on the board, Peek served on six separate committees, including the Constitution & Bylaws Committee, on which he served for 16 years, three as chairman. He actively advocated on behalf of USPA members, specifically those who jump primarily at DZs using small piston airplanes like the Cessna 182. He often reminded the board that there are a greater number of DZs using Cessna piston aircraft than DZs using turbine aircraft. Traveling throughout his region, he always found time to help individual members and spoke up on behalf of safe practices in skydiving and aviation. USPA National Director Mike Mullins, who knew Peek for more than 30 years, remarked, “When you think of grassroots skydiving and the Cessna DZ, you think of Gary. He has always promoted the individual skydiver at the small DZ and strived to make skydiving affordable and available to the average person.”
Mullins added, “His contribution to the USPA Board of Directors as the longtime Central Regional Director is well known and respected. He will be missed.”