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.
Born in the USA, 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.
From Japan her travels took her across Southeast Asia, Europe and to Australia where she lived and traveled up the west coast in a small boat. In 1979 she moved to Alaska and moved to a small town in the southwest part of the state, Dillingham, where she worked for the Bristol Bay Native Association. Her job involved traveling to each of the remote villages in the region, areas only accessible by air.
Patty’s first experience with bush flying was not a positive one. The first airplane she chartered for her job crashed on take off, 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 and a Captain for Continental Airlines..
Though she had never seen aerobatics, a lifelong curiosity led her to attend her first Airshow in British Columbia in 1983, where she saw aerobatic pilots perform and promised herself “I can do that!” By 1985, five years after gaining her pilot’s license, she earned a spot on the US Aerobatic Team.
Patty’s skill is based on years of training and experience. 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.