ORLANDO, FLORIDA — Local air show flying legend Patty Wagner was inducted into the Women in Aviation International Pioneer Hall of Fame during ceremonies held in Orlando last weekend.
Wagner, who along with her husband Bob, is a well-known multi-rated pilot who, in 2019, received the coveted FAA Master Pilot Award “for demonstrating professionalism and skill and aviation expertise for 50 years.”
“It is amazing to be chosen to enter the Hall of Fame,” said Wagner, “I feel humbled by the honor.”
The Wagners reside near West Milton and are perhaps best known for their exciting wing-riding air show act during the 1970s and 80s. With Bob at the controls and Patty on the top wing of their WACO bi-plane, the couple performed at air shows in 47 states and in Canada.
Patty’s father introduced her to flying when she was a child. Sadly, he passed away at an early age and Patty promised her mom that she would wait until she was 18 to begin flying lessons.
She met Bob when he worked as manager of a FBO (Fixed Base Operator). After the couple married, Patty continued to fly, earning her commercial, seaplane, and glider certificates.
Once Patty retired from the air show circuit, she began volunteering for a number of aviation organizations, including the WACO Historical Society and Women in Aviation.
Wagner has been attending WAI events even before it became and official organization. “I remember back putting mailing address labels on brochures,” said Wagner, ” announcing the (then) new organization called Women in Aviation.”
On being recognized as a women pioneer in aviation, Wagner says to the younger generation of girls aspiring to follow the path to a career in aviation, “There are so many journeys out there and we’ve all made them in different ways. The most important thing is to start, and not say ‘no’ or ‘I can’t’. Try. There will be detours along the road but if this is your passion, just keep going for it.”
Inducted alongside Wagner in the Class of 2020 was Maj. Gen. Leavitt, the first woman to be selected to fly the F-15 Strike Eagle, (among her many other accomplishments), and the U.S. Army’s first Women Rotary Wing Aviators.
Patty can be found frequently at Historic WACO Field south of Troy helping out with events, a smile on her face, as she continues to share her love of aviation with others.