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A life inverted:

an interview with Patty Wagstaff By Pete Muntean


ost people know Patty Wagstaff as the famed female pilot that broke down barriers for women pilots with her three consecutive U.S. National Aerobatic Championship wins in the early90s. They know her as somebody honored at the highest levels—from the National Aviation Hall of Fame to the Smithsonian Institution (her Extra 260 is hanging from the ceiling of the National Air and Space Museum). I know her as one of my closest and oldest friends. In fact, I’ve known her as long as I can remember. On my desk sits a picture of us taken at an aerobatic contest in 1991. I’m three years old. Patty keeps the same picture on her desk, too. So, naturally, when this assignment came my way, I jumped at the opportunity. Call it retribution for the harsh instruction she’s given me over the years at the controls of her support plane (I’m always off the centerline, she says), but I was thrilled to have an excuse to ask her a few questions that she’s never been asked before. In this PilotMag interview, Patty, who will fly her 25th season on the air show circuit this year, muses on her love of flying and animals, the role of women in aviation, and looks ahead to her role as an industry ambassador while looking back at her charmed life in flight.

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