March 30 & 31, 2019

Boca Chica Field, Key West

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Patty Wagstaff

To Patty Wagstaff the sky represents adventure, freedom and challenge. A six-time member of the US Aerobatic Team, Patty has won the gold, silver and bronze medals in Olympic-level international aerobatic competition and is the first woman to win the title of US National Aerobatic champion and one of the few people to win it three times.

Patty, one of the world’s top airshow pilots, flies thrilling, low-level aerobatic demonstrations before millions of people each year. Her breathtaking performances give airshow spectators a front-row seat view of the precision and complexity of modern, unlimited hard-core aerobatics. Her smooth aggressive style sets the standard for performers the world over.

Patty grew up in and around airplanes. Moving to Japan when she was nine years old where her father was a Captain for Japan Air Lines. Her earliest memories include sitting with her father at the controls of his airplanes. At ten years old when her father let her take the controls of his DC-6, her lifelong love affair with airplanes began.

Patty’s first experience with bush flying was not a positive one. The first airplane she chartered for her job crashed on takeoff, so Patty decided to learn to fly herself, hiring friend and later husband, Bob, to travel with her in his Cessna 185 floatplane. Since then she earned her Commercial, Instrument, Seaplane and Commercial Helicopter Ratings. She is a Flight and Instrument Instructor and is rated and qualified to fly many airplanes, from World War II fighters to jets. Patty’s sister, Toni, is also a pilot for United Airlines.

Patty’s skill is based on years of training and experience and love of aerobatics. She is a six-time recipient of the “First Lady of Aerobatics” Betty Skelton Award. In July 2004, Patty was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame and was the recipient of the National Air and Space Museum’s Award for Current Achievement in 1994. Having received many awards for her flying, she is particularly proud of receiving the Airshow industry’s most prestigious award, the “Sword of Excellence”, and the “Bill Barber Award for Showmanship”. Recently she was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Air Force Association. In March, 1994, her airplane, the Goodrich Extra 260, went on display in the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum in Washington DC. You can see Patty’s airplane and exhibit next to the Pioneers of Flight Gallery.

Patty has trained with the Russian Aerobatic Team and has flown Airshows and competitions in such exotic places as South and Central America, Russia, Europe, Mexico and Iceland. She is a member of the Screen Actors Guild, Motion Picture Pilots Association, United Stuntwomen’s Association, working as a stunt pilot and aerial coordinator for the film and television industry.

From 1999-2006, Patty was Raytheon’s/Beechcraft (now Textron) demo pilot for their T6A/B Texan II military trainer and light attack aircraft, performing in international Airshows such as Paris, Singapore and Farnborough. Today she continues to coach their Demo Team.

Since 2001, Patty has traveled to Kenya to give bush, recurrency and aerobatic training to the pilots of the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) who protect Kenya’s elephants, rhino and other natural resources from poachers.

From 2010 to 2012 Patty flew for Cal Fire as an Air Attack pilot in the OV-10 Bronco. Cal Fire pilots fly the OV-10 and the S2T Tanker out of 12 bases helping keep California safe and supporting firefighters on the ground. In 2013 she returned to Florida to start an aerobatic school, “Patty Wagstaff Aerobatic School” in St. Augustine, Florida, located at Southeast Aero, the U.S. Distributor for the Extra Aircraft and continues to fly airshows worldwide.

Continuing a life of adventure, when she’s not flying you can find her riding horses, hanging out with her Jack Russell Terriers and her parrot, Buddha; riding motorcycles, traveling, practicing yoga and writing about her experiences in aviation for her column “Let it Roll” in Plane and Pilot Magazine.

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