A champion, teacher, sportsman, and performer, Patty Wagstaff is a modern day inspiration to pilots everywhere. With a family history involved in the skies, Wagstaff took to the air like a bird.
Photo of Patty Wagstaff by the National Air and Space Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution
Taking the controls of her father’s DC-6 at ten years old with him by her side, her eyes were opened to the incredible feeling of flying. Starting her affair with airplanes with bush flying, Wagstaff’s first airplane she was chartering crashed on take off. Determined to not let the experience get in her way to the skies, she hired friend and future husband, Bob, to travel with her in his Cessna 185 floatplane.
That was just the beginning. Learning and training to fly everything from WWII fighter planes to jets to helicopters, Wagstaff conquered any aircraft that came her way. Years of training, experience and determination led to earning a spot in the US Aerobatic Team by 1985.
A six-time recipient of the “First Lady of Aerobatics” Betty Skelton Award, a recipient of the “Sword of Excellence” Airshow Industry Award, and the “Bill Barber Award for Showmanship” are a few of Wagstaff’s proudest achievements. In 2004 she was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame and was recently awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Air Force Association.
When she is not training or flying in Airshows and competitions, Wagstaff works as a stunt pilot and aerial coordinator for TV and film. Never having enough of the sky, Patty decided to use her skills and training to help others in more ways than just entertainment. For over ten years, she has traveled to East Africa to train Kenya Wildlife Service pilots in bush, recurrency and aerobatic training. Those pilots go on to protect Kenya’s natural resources, elephants and rhinos. Dedicated to helping other, for three years she flew for the Cal Fire as an Air Attack pilot to help keep California safe from fires.
Continuing her passion for flying, Wagstaff has opened an aerobatic school in St. Augustine, Florida. At the “Patty Wagstaff Aerobatic School” she trains pilots to fly with safety and confidence. When she isn’t teaching others the joys of flight, she is off traveling around the world and enjoying the little things in life. Patty Wagstaff is a true pilot at heart and an American inspiration.
Photo of Patty Wagstaff from Patty Wagstaff Airshows, Inc.
For more information on Patty, visit her website: http://www.pattywagstaff.com/
The information for this blog post came from:
Before he became one of the most innovative and distinguished coaches in NFL history, Tom Landry was a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Force during WWII.
Tom Landry circa 1944
Starting off as a quarterback in high school, than continuing his game at the University of Texas, Landry put a hold on his education to serve in the U.S. Army Air Corps. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, both his brother, Robert had enlisted in the Army Air Corps. Unfortunately, during a flight over the North Atlantic Ocean, Robert’s plane went down and he was declared dead.
Tom enlisted in the armed forces in honor of his brother, Robert. Though his first experience in a bomber did not go as planned, he was committed to flying. Training as a co-pilot for a B-17 in Sioux City Iowa, in wasn’t until 1944 that he received his first orders and sent off to England. Landry was assigned to the Eighth Air Force, 493rd Squadron in Ipswich.
Earning his wings and a commission as a Second Lieutenant at RAF Debach, he was co-pilot of a B-17 Flying Fortress in the 860th Bombardment Squadron. From November 1944 to April 1945 he completed a combat tour of 30 missions and even survived a crash landing after his plane ran out of fuel.
Tom Landry coaching the Dallas Cowboys in 1971. Photo from Harold Valentine/AP.
After the war, he went back to playing football while at college. Then went on to become one of the greatest coaches in NFL history, creating the “4-3 defense” alignment and winning two Super Bowl Championships. His service to his country and the heart he put into all he did is just one of the many reasons we consider Tom Landry an American inspiration.
Check out our very first "Cockpit Catalog" from our initial mail order days circa 1979/80. The first to bring then long dormant aviation fashion back into the world and been keeping up this tradition for 40 years now!
Lydia Litvyak standing next to her plane before a mission.
At age 14 she enrolled in a flying club, and by 15 performed her first solo flight. It’s no wonder we are so impressed with Lydia Litvyak, the White Lily (Rose) of Stanlingrad. She was the first female fighter pilot to earn the title fighter ace.
Ever since she was a child she became interested in flying. For three years she was a flight instructor, then after the German attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941, Litvyak tried to join a military aviation unit. She was only accepted after exaggerating her pre-war flight time by 100 hours. On her third mission flying in a Yak-1 on September 13, 1942, she scored her first two kills.
Never giving up her femininity, she would dye her hair blonde and place flowers in the cockpit of the plane she flew while serving in the military. Moving up quickly in the military ranks, she and fellow female pilot, Katya Budanova became “free hunters” on February 23, 1943. By June 13, she was appointed flight commander of the 3rd Aviation Squadron within 73rd GvIAP.
Her last mission was on August 1, 1943 when she did not return to her base. Her plane was shot down during a fight with a pair of German bombers. It was rumored that she survived the crash and taken as a prisoner of war, but she was never heard from again. She ended her career with 11-12 solo kills, at least 4 shared kills and a total of 66 combat missions. On May 6, 1990 she was award Litvak Hero of the Soviet Union.
Lydia Litvyak, the White Lily (Rose) of Stanlingrad
Some of the first sky explorations took place as far back as the 1780s, though they weren’t with planes. The Montgolfier Brothers were the pioneers of the hot air balloon, who conducted the first untethered flights.
The Montgolfier Brothers were the pioneers of the hot air balloon, who conducted the first untethered flights.
Joseph-Michel and Jacques- Étienne were born in France, the sons of a paper factory owner. The factory helped lead them to their discovery that heated air would cause a large lightweight paper or fabric bag to rise in the air.
Starting their discovery by raising just a balloon, they advanced a few months later on September 19, 1783 by sending a sheep, rooster, and duck into the air. The animal passengers stayed up in their balloon for 8 minutes landing 2 miles from the launch site.
Then on November 21, 1783, the first untethered flight took place in a balloon that sailed over Paris for 5.5 miles in 25 minutes. Without the curiosity and heart of these early explorers, the sky would have taken another century to reach.
Wow–these were the days! Digging through our archive we found a picture of our first store in 1986 that was on 595 Broadway in New York. We were the first themed, fashion store on Broadway, with a real T-6 Aircraft inside. Now you can visit the aircraft at the American Airpower Museum in Long Island and we've moved uptown to 15 W 39th St. Anyone else remember the old store?