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/
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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.