Born in the USA, Patty moved to Japan when she was nine years old where her father was a captain for Japan Air Lines.
Her cross-cultural academic career began in Japan, took her to Southeast Asia and Europe and then a six-year work-study program in Australia. She moved to Alaska in 1979 where she began her now-legendary career in aviation.
Patty's first flying lesson was in a Cessna 185 floatplane and since then she has earned her Commercial, Instrument, Seaplane and Commercial Helicopter Ratings.
Patty is a Flight and Instrument Instructor and is rated and qualified to fly many airplanes, from World War II warbirds to jets. Her sister, Toni, is also a pilot and a captain for Continental Airlines based in Guam.
Patty Wagstaff, who flies the Goodrich Extra 300S, is a three-time U.S. National Aerobatic Champion and the first woman to win this title. She retired from aerobatic competition in 1996, and now divides her time between airshow and movie stunt flying. A six-time recipient of the Betty Skelton, "First Lady of Aerobatics" award, Patty has received many awards for her flying.
"I seem to need the intensity and the focus this kind of thing forces on you. Yes, there's the danger, but that's really just a by-product of an activity that gives you no choice but to focus. If the result of losing that focus wasn't death, I'm not sure I would have been so attracted to it."
Wagstaff can be a contradictory personality. Many of her early years-before she discovered aviation-were spent in a series of wild adventures worldwide. The lifestyle and character she sketches in her reminiscences are those of someone who is permanently attached to impermanence. Change is her credo. "Someone said airshow pilots all suffer from ADD, and I think they're right."
"I was," she says, "someone constantly in search of something I could grab hold of. But the focus never lasted. Then I discovered flying. Much more important, I was introduced to aerobatics very early, and I knew instantly this was it. It wasn't a gradual thing. It just reached up and grabbed me, and I was gone! Aerobatics absolutely changed my life and made me into a different person. Mostly, anyway. ...more
Patty Wagstaff flies one of the most thrilling, low-level aerobatic routines in the world today. Flying before millions of air show spectators each year, her breathtaking performances give spectators a front-row seat view of the precision and complexity of modern, unlimited hard-core aerobatics. Her aggressive smooth style sets the standard for performers the world over.
Born in the USA, Patty moved to Japan when she was nine years old where her father was a captain for Japan Air Lines. Her cross-cultural academic career began in Japan, took her to Southeast Asia and Europe and then a six-year work-study program in Australia. She moved to Alaska in 1979 where she began her now-legendary career in aviation.
Patty's first flying lesson was in a Cessna 185 floatplane and since then she has 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 warbirds to jets. Her sister, Toni, is also a pilot and a captain for Continental Airlines based in Guam. ...more
Wingspan 7.6m (24 ft 9 in), Length 6 m (20 ft), Height 1.8 m (6 ft), Weight 2,530 kg (1,150 lb) Empty
In September 1991, Patty Wagstaff became the United States National Aerobatic Champion, flying the Extra 260 aerobatic aircraft. She successfully defended the title in 1992 in the Extra 260 and in 1993 in an Extra 300S. She was the first woman to win this title since the men's and women's aerobatic competitions were merged in 1972. The National Aerobatic Championships are held each September in Denison/Sherman, Texas.
The Extra 260 is a one-of-a-kind aircraft created by Walter Extra, a German aerobatic competitor and one of the world's premier aerobatic aircraft designers and builders. This hand-built aircraft is recognized for its beauty, high performance, and maneuverability. It can roll at the rate of 360 degrees per second and climb vertically at 1,200 meters (4,000 feet) per minute. ...more
In 1991, Patty Wagstaff became the first woman to win the title of U.S. National Aerobatic Champion, a title she then defended in 1992 and 1993. Wagstaff, now based in St. Augustine, Florida, was raised in Japan and worked as a model and a shipwreck diver in Australia before moving to Alaska in 1978. There she began flight instruction in a Cessna 185 on floats and earned her private pilot license in 1979. Wagstaff moved quickly to earn her commercial and instrument ratings for single and multi-engine aircraft and seaplanes.
She entered her first aerobatic competition in 1984 and moved to the Unlimited category (most proficient) in only two years. Wagstaff was a six-time member of the U.S. Aerobatic Team, which competes in world competition every two years, until her retirement from competition in 1996. Today, Wagstaff is a premier aerobatic pilot in air shows throughout the United States, performing dynamic and precise routines in her Extra 300L. She is also a commercially rated helicopter pilot, a flight instructor for unlimited aerobatics, and she flies for motion pictures and television.
Wagstaff is a four-time winner of the Betty Skelton First Lady of Aerobatics Trophy and was the 1995 recipient of the National Air and Space Museum Trophy for Current Achievement in Aviation. She is the author, with Ann Cooper, of her autobiography, Fire and Air: A Life on the Edge. The aircraft in which she became U.S. National Aerobatic Champion is the Extra 260, a German-built aircraft which is on display in the Pioneers of Flight gallery.
THE WHITE HOUSE
PRESIDENT CLINTON NAMES TWO MEMBERS TO THE FIRST FLIGHT CENTENNIAL FEDERAL ADVISORY BOARD
The President today announced his intent to appoint Patty Wagstaff and Tom D. Crouch to the First Flight Centennial Federal Advisory Board.
Ms. Patty Wagstaff, of St. Augustine, Florida, began her career in aviation in 1979 and since that time has flown airshows and competitions throughout North America and internationally. Ms. Wagstaff is a six-time member of the U.S. Aerobatic Team, a three-time U.S. National Aerobatic Champion, the 1993 IAC Champion and a six time recipient of the "First Lady of Aerobatics" Betty Skelton Award.
Ms. Wagstaff is also the first woman to win the title of U.S. National Aerobatic Champion, and she won gold, silver and bronze medals in Olympic-level international aerobatics competition. In 1994, Ms. Wagstaff's airplane, the BFGoodrich Aerospace Extra 260, went on display in the Smithsonian Institution's National Air & Space Museum's exhibit "Pioneers of Flight" Gallery. ...more
Motion Picture Pilots Association : Patty Wagstaff
Patty Wagstaff is truly one of a kind. She is the only female member of the MPPA, available to double both men and women and fly both men and women's parts. When she's not performing for the camera Patty performs in aerial exhibitions before millions of spectators. Her breathtaking low-level airshow performances give spectators a front row seat view of the precision and complexity of unlimited aerobatics in airshows and competitions through out North America and around the world.
Credits Include: Movies: Drop Zone; Forever Young; Up Close & Personal. Commercials : Pepsi Light; Honda; Shell Oil. Television : Lois & Clark; Fortune Hunter ; Discovery Channel; Learning Channel; WINGS. Speedvision : (both on-camera as commentator, and off-camera as pilot)
The Original Stephens Akro
in part says...
In a hangar at Fla-Bob Airport, Rubidoux,CA, Lou Stolp, built a plane that was one of the first designed specifically for competitive aerobatics and airshow flying. [...] The plane had excellent performance and in the hands of the right person had potential to knock the Pitts off as the aerobatic dominate mount of the 60s and 70s. [...]
The most visible plane that is a further refinement of the early Akro designs is the Extra series that is made in single and two place versions. Extras are excellent airplanes for sport flying, airshows and competition and are commercially produced and available for sale new and used. ...more
The 1996 United States Aerobatic Team : An AIR&SPACE QTVR
In May of 1996, the United States Aerobatic Team gathered at Clarence Page airport outside Oklahoma City for Spring Training for the XVIII World Aerobatic Championships, which were held in August of that year The ten member team trained in two shifts of 5 members each. In this AIR&SPACE QTVR panorama, the second shift posed with their aircraft at an intersection of taxiways.
The 1996 United States Aerobatic Team : An AIR&SPACE QTVR
Patty Wagstaff was the first woman to become the United States National Aerobatic Champion, a feat she accomplished three times. John Lillberg was on the team for the second time. Ellen Dean was making her third appearance on the U.S Team. Robert Armstrong also back for the second time, was flying the only biplane in the U.S. Team's inventory. Debby Rihn-Harvey was back for her 5th World Championships in the custom made Texas Hurricane.
Patty Wagstaff Interview with John "Spoons" Sponauer Aug. 25, 2000 http://www.simhq.com
Patty Wagstaff is one of this country's most well-known and respected aerobatic pilots, and her trademark red, white, and blue German-made Extra 300 Special flies in front of millions at air shows around the world each year. Rated as a commercial, multiengine, instrument, seaplane, and helicopter pilot, Patty also holds multiengine and instrument instructor ratings and has more than 6,000 hours of flight time.
A six-time member of the U.S. Aerobatic Team since 1985, Patty is three-time U.S. National Aerobatic Champion, the 1993 International Aerobatics Competition Champion, and a six time recipient of the "First Lady of Aerobatics" Betty Skelton Award. The first woman to ever win the title of U.S. National Aerobatic Champion, Patty has won the Bronze, Silver, and Gold Medals in Olympic-level international aerobatic competition. She has trained with the Russian Aerobatic Team in the former Soviet Union, and coaches and trains aerobatic competitors from around the world, as well as serves as an IAC rated judge.
In March of 1994, her performance airplane at the time, the BF Goodrich Aerospace Extra 260, went on special display in the Smithsonian's Institution's national Air & Space Museum in Washington DC. You can see Patty's airplane and exhibit in the Pioneers of Flight Gallery, next to Amelia Earhart's Lockheed Vega. ...more
Patty Wagstaff: Fire and Air
By Ann L. Cooper
Fire and air form the propulsion system for our aircraft. They also are two of the four elements, with water and earth. Patty Wagstaff discovered those elements to which she was drawn in 1979 when she took her first flight lesson in a C-182 floatplane in Alaska. Prior to that exhilarating takeoff and entranced by the pulsating engine that pulled her craft from its watery runway, she had been well introduced to earth and water.
But water and earth were not Patty's elements; she was inexorably drawn to fire and to air, and her first flying lesson confirmed her passions.
A scant five years after having earned her pilot's certificate in 1980, Patty was successful enough at acrobatic competition that she earned a berth on the Olympic style United States Aerobatic Team. Challenged by acrobatic competition among the world's best male and female pilots, she turned what could have been a poorly-focused life -- drifting in and out of careers and job opportunities -- into a stunning success story. ...more
© 2000, William L. Castleman
Extra 300S - paper model