Forging for the fallen

  • Published
  • By Airman Keagan Lee
  • 366th Fighter Wing

If you visited the 2024 Beltane Fantasy Festival May 11-12, you may have seen the most magnificent mustache in all the land sporting an OCP kilt while forging a grappling hook in burning corn.

Who was this majestic figure, you may ask? It was Tech. Sgt. Steven Pyott, chief project officer of the 366th Fighter Wing innovation cell, and he was accompanied by Master Sgt. Shawn Thacker, assigned to the 366th Security Forces Squadron.

They were forging the grappling hook as part of a fundraiser for a charity for fallen officers in honor of National Police Week.

“Over the course of my almost 20 years, I’ve seen several of my friends buried and the financial hardship it puts their families into, whether it be civilian or military,” said Pyott. “So by me doing this, it’s my last major contribution as active duty law enforcement.”

Pyott graduated Air Force basic training in January 2005. He began his career in Security Forces, was deployed multiple times, and finally became chief project officer of the 366 FW innovation cell with his invention of the Solar Power Portable Cell.

Pyott first struck the anvil 12 years ago. It was by chance that he met the youngest master blacksmith in England, who offered to give him a free lesson.

That fateful meeting sparked a newfound passion in Pyott. He built his own forge and after four years of honing the craft, started offering lessons himself. His favorite part of blacksmithing is teaching other people how to do it and seeing the passion ignite in their eyes like it did in his.

“The most difficult part of the process is understanding the way the metal works,” said Pyott. “You have to treat it like a game where you’re not trying to beat the metal, but you’re working with the metal to get a final product.”

Pyott specializes in high-end kitchen cutlery and railroad spike BBQ tools. He prides himself in his hand forged going-away gifts for coworkers, as well as his “ridiculously stupid ideas,” like the medieval mace and 12 gauge shotgun hybrid that he uses as a flare gun when he goes fishing.

Pyott made his national television debut in season 8, episode 22 of History Channel’s “Forged in Fire.” He recalled the experience of auditioning against 19,000 people, and coming in fourth, only for the airline to lose his luggage on his way to the filming location. Luckily, the network was kind enough to lend him their tools and a few t-shirts.

“You want to excel at your job, but when you leave your job for the day you don’t want that job to be your entire persona,” said Pyott, explaining why he thinks The Whole Airman Concept is important. He emphasized that it’s critical to decompress for your physical and mental health.

He went on to say, “Look out for your friends, look out for your family, and if you can do something for another person, always try to the best of your ability.”

But why corn, you might still be wondering? When burning, the corn will carbonize and turn into what Pyott calls “corn coal.” The corn coal can get up to 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit, which is more than hot enough for blacksmithing.

“It smells better, it’s more pleasant to use in public areas because it doesn’t pop as much as charcoal, and it draws people in because it’s a question extractor,” said Pyott.

He credits Nick Roberts, of Broken Hammer Creations, with teaching him that trick.

If you want to keep up with Pyott’s blacksmithing and see what crazy thing he builds next, be sure to follow his Facebook page, “Pyott’s Training and Self Defense.”