• Interview With Patty Wagstaff

    Interview With Patty Wagstaff

    Conducted by Dominic Smith


    Patty Wagstaff

    When did you first know you were interested in aviation and what prompted you into becoming a pilot?

    Airplanes and aviation have always fascinated me. I remember sitting in my dad's B-25 when I was about 3 years old, and I have thought they were cool ever since! When my dad was in the cockpit, I loved going anywhere!

    Where did you learn to fly, who were your instructors and what type of aircraft did you learn to fly in?

    I learned to fly in Alaska. I started in Dillingham, a small town in Bristol Bay in the southwest part of the state, and flew in Anchorage as well, which was where I finished my ratings. The first small airplane I flew in was a Cessna 185, on floats off Lake Hood. I was living in Dillingham so I took lessons there in a Cessna and a Cherokee. I had some great instructors including my ex-husband.

    When and where was your first solo, and what do you remember most about it?

    My first solo was in 1980 at Birchwood Airport, just outside of Anchorage, Alaska. I remember thinking "I can't believe they let me do this!" But they did, and I have never looked back!

    When did you first own your own aircraft and what kind was it?

    My husband Bob and I owned a Cessna 185 and then we bought a BE-55 Baron, but my first aerobatic airplane was a 1977 Super Decathalon.


    What inspired you to get into aerobatics and when did you start learning it?

    My interest had always been in aerobatics so I had already started taking lessons but when I went to an airshow and saw the spectacular flying skills and camaraderie of the pilots, my interest was cemented. I knew then that that was what I wanted to do.

    2009 Blue Angels Homecoming Airshow - Patty Wagstaff

    Where did you practice and what types of things did you need to learn in order to do what you can today?

    I've always looked at flight training and aerobatic training as something that needs to be very methodical. Steps must be taken one at a time. I began by taking lessons, then I practiced by myself, up very high, adding manoeuvres to my repertoire. Even today, I still have to practice quite often to keep my G tolerance level up.

    What fitness regime do you follow to maintain your G tolerances?

    Fitness is a way of life for me. I bike, ride horses, work out, do yoga, and generally live an athletic lifestyle. However, to maintain G tolerance, you just have to be in the cockpit as often as you can.

    What were some of the first aerobatic moves you did by yourself in an aircraft?

    I think the first aerobatic moves I did by myself were probably a loop, roll and a spin.

    What advice would you give young people today if they wanted to get into aerobatics?

    Take lessons! We have set up an aerobatic school in St. Augustine, Florida, where you can get your first taste of aerobatics.

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