Air show pilot Patty Wagstaff won the U.S. National Aerobatic Championships three times and is a six-time member of the U.S. Aerobatic Team. She’s a flight instructor, and after three years of flying an OV-10 Bronco for Cal Fire as an Air Attack pilot during fire season, she is back to full time airshow flying, consulting, coaching, and instructing aerobatics. Patty also runs Patty Wagstaff Aerobatic School based at Southeast Aero, the U.S. dealer for the Extra Aircraft, in St. Augustine.
I got my Certified Flight Instructor Instrument (CFII) rating in Alaska in 1983. It was the icing on the cake after earning my Private, Instrument, Commercial, Seaplane and Multi-Engine ratings as I now had the bona fides to be considered a professional pilot with a marketable skill. But, like most low time CFIs, I had more »
When people ask me what the coolest experience I’ve ever had in an airplane is, I don’t hesitate—it was my F/A-18 Hornet ride to an aircraft carrier
It began at the NAS Oceana O Club at the end of a successful airshow weekend in late September, 1999, when U.S. Navy Captain and Commander of the Strike-Fighter Wing Atlantic John “Lites” Leenhouts joined our table. I’m not sure where Lites got his call sign, but he is the kind of person who lights more »
There’s a lot to consider for pilots in the path of a hurricane
If you choose to live in a tropical or sub-tropical climate, you have to be aware of the threat of hurricanes. Like an in-flight emergency, it may never happen, but if you are prepared, you increase the chances of survival for you and your passengers. Hurricanes are nothing to be cavalier or blasé about. This more »
I sat on the ramp in my Extra 260 in Tehachapi, holding short of Runway 08, when my fuel tank imploded. While taxiing out, I decided to transfer fuel from my rear auxiliary fuel tank to my main aux tank. I might need the fuel and couldn’t burn right from the rear aux tank; it more »
How to get reluctant friends and family up in the air (and enjoying it, too)
When I landed at Valparaiso, Indiana, KVPZ, my traditional fuel stop en route to Oshkosh (the FBO gives fuel discounts to #OSH-bound airplanes, too), I started chatting with a friendly elderly man. I mentioned something about his wife, and he said, “No! I’ve never gotten married because I didn’t want to lose my freedom to more »
I lived in Alaska in the mid-’90s but kept my airplane on the northwestern side of Tucson at the Avra Valley Airport. Known as a fun sport aviation airport, it was the epicenter of the local aerobatic scene, with an aerobatic box right next to the airport. Home of IAC Chapter 62, Avra Valley was more »
Most aviators want to be the best they can be. We all want to be Maverick in Top Gun, ruling the skies and greasing on every landing. Whether we fly a 747 or a Piper Cherokee, when we get in that airplane and flip on the switches, we are pilot-in-command. The world awaits. But once more »
When my friends and I want to kick back and chill during Oshkosh, you can usually find us parked near Runway 9/27 watching airplanes land. We tune in a handheld radio and listen to the temporary tower helping tiny taildraggers to warbirds and jets land on the green dot. It’s impressive! Pilots of all experience more »
Nausea isn’t the most alluring topic. Just the very word brings up bad memories. It’s not fun to regurgitate that icky feeling we’ve all experienced at one time or another. When we feel nauseated, we normally have a very good idea why we do—food poisoning, the flu or a whole host of other reasons. When more »
Every season has its challenges for pilots. Learn how to prepare for the heat and humidity, warm fronts and thunderstorms, to make summer flying a breeze.
When I think about summer, I think of long, lean days, blue water, tan legs, iced tea. I can survive winter, but it’s really about paying my dues until my favorite season returns. Summer means flying west into a golden sun or heading home trying to beat the darkness so I can sleep in my more »
Flight bags and their contents are supremely personal—and can reveal a lot about a pilot
“Everybody’s gotta have a little place for their stuff. That’s all life is about. Trying to find a place for your stuff.” — George Carlin Stuff—we’ve all got it. We take it with us, everywhere. We take bags of it to work, to play, overnight, from room to room. We’ve got old stuff and new stuff. more »
Pushing boundaries to cut a ribbon with a turning propeller while flying 20 feet above the ground upside down
Everest was meant to be climbed and the Antarctic explored. Pushing boundaries is what we do. People are motivated by lots of things—fun, money, the chance to be the first, to prove something to themselves or others, or just “because it’s there.” So, one might ask why would any sane person want to cut a more »
We stand, shoulder to shoulder, gazing up at the sky. With a hand shielding our eyes from the sun, we watch the smoke trail of an airplane flying up, up and over into a perfect loop. A vertical circle in the sky, a loop is a loop, whether flown by a biplane or a Bearcat. more »
Connecting with the past forges a more meaningful relationship with flying—and makes us better pilots, too
Airshow pilots have always been a motley and colorful crew of interesting characters. As a rule, they’re resourceful, multitalented and inventive. The people I’ve performed with are from all walks of life. Extroverts and introverts, they range from being airline pilots (lots of them), to dentists, actors and singers, to wealthy land owners and a more »
Reaffirming aviation’s future…one Wisconsin airshow at a time.
When I started to learn to fly, I began reading aviation magazines and soon heard about the big, big annual fly-in called “Oshkosh.” I heard about this amazing EAA-hosted gathering of airplanes, pilots and enthusiasts somewhere or other in Wisconsin. I have to admit, I was intrigued mostly because I had been wearing a pair more »
The challenge of flying a new plane to keep you inspired.
In 1993, I stood on the ramp at the Dayton Airshow keenly watching the jets and turboprops in the JPATS competition. The JPATS—Joint Primary Aircraft Training System—program was interesting. In a rare move, the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Navy decided to team up in an effort to modernize their training fleets and replace more »
There are a lot of reasons why I love to fly, but the one that’s the foundation of them all is freedom. In airplanes, as in dreams, I rise above the mountains and the mundane. I can see over the trees. I’m in charge and in control of my destination, my destiny. The world becomes more »
Learning how to live life in and out of the cockpit
Through life and career, we undoubtedly pick up mentors, heroes and role models. Everyday life is a challenge, leaving us wondering how to act, and we have to rely on others to show the way—overtly as you might expect from a coach or inadvertently when we like a character on TV or meet someone whose more »