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.
Knowing when to give it another try is a key to avoiding a big safety risk.
In the sticky southern Georgia afternoon, the air was flat and heavy as we turned final for Runway 6 at KCSG. It was our last fuel stop after a long day, and we were ready to call it quits for the evening. Following my flight lead, an A36 Bonanza, down the imaginary glideslope, I flew more »
A 2,000-mile side trip seemed like a good idea at the time.
Subscribe today to Plane & Pilot magazine for industry news, reviews and much more delivered straight to you! Why was I doing flying a single seat Extra at 1000’ above the ground, alone, over a country that has a “shoot to kill” policy for unidentified aircraft, and was not talking to anyone? I had to ask more »
Focus on only what matters, even if other things matter too.
Sign up for our newsletter, full of tips, reviews and much more! As an airshow pilot, I often get asked, “How do you deal with flying a low-level airshow when you’re having a bad day?” It’s a good question and one that I’ve struggled with myself. Like fighter pilots, airshow pilots have unique challenges and more »
When you’re looking for a dose of self-confidence, sometimes the clichés are on the money
Subscribe today to Plane & Pilot magazine for industry news, reviews and much more delivered straight to you! Life is full of ups and downs, and so is pursuing aviation, both literally and figuratively. When we start taking flying lessons, we are all warned about the learning plateaus we will have to overcome. It is not more »
Every two years, Certified Flight and Instrument Instructors have to renew their rating in one of three ways—by taking an online refresher course, attending a weekend ground school or taking a check ride with their favorite Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE). I’ve always kept my CFI up to date, but when I started making aerobatics my more »
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 »