Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Pre-Gathering of Mustangs and Legends

Well, because of an unfortunate work commitment, I am going to be unable to attend The Gathering of Mustangs & Legends, billed as "A Once in a Lifetime Aviation Celebration." It's this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at Rickenbacker Air Force Base, which is an easy 20 minute drive from my house. Over 100 P-51s are expected, along with an airshow that will rival those that they have at Oshkosh every year. In fact, in one big respect this airshow will exceed the Oshkosh standard: the Air Force Thunderbirds will be performing. But, I won't be there.

That said, my friend Arnett Howard, a local professional musician, pilot, and history buff has spent quite a bit of time recently researching the history of the Tuskegee Airmen and their three year period of being based at Rickenbacker (nee Lockbourne) AFB. He has put together a nice photo display which will be included in the exhibit showing the history of the air base. Even though my weekend is fully committed to work, I was able to get away from the office today to help Arnett deliver his display to the base and help set it up.

There were a handful of airplanes already there, so I at least got to see a dozen or so of the 100+ Mustangs that will be flying in. Also, Arnett is friends with one of the airshow performers, and it just happens to be a performer that I've known about and seen perform many times. Her name is Patty Wagstaff, and although she doesn't know it, our history goes way back.

Early in her scholastic career, Co-pilot Egg attended a school that had woefully obsolete ideas concerning what females can and cannot do in modern society. To combat the gender-typing that the school seemed to feel appropriate in imbuing in my child, I used Ms. Wagstaff as a counter example. Egg saw Patty perform at the 2004 Dayton Airshow, and came away suitably impressed. Even back when we had the Tampico, steep banks and pushovers that would lift her against the seat belt were called "Wagstaffs" or 'P-Wags."

Earlier this year, Egg and I flew to Burke-Lakefront, where they have a "Women in Aviation" museum set up in the terminal. Part of their collection is a Patty Wagstaff display, including one of her flight suits. I asked Egg to pose in front of the display for a picture. You may remember the somewhat disappointing result, and what I said about it at the time:

Grrr, she's going to pay for that. I'm going to do exactly what I had hoped to do with that picture, which is to get Patty to autograph it. That'll learn her!

Well, that's exactly what I did! In addition to getting the picture (and my hat, only the 2nd autograph I've asked for in my entire life, despite having had the opportunities of asking such luminaries as Chuck Yeager, Jack Nicklaus, and George "Norm" Wendt. The only other autograph I've requested and received was from Leo Loudenslager) autographed ("To Erika, Let's Go Flying. Patty Wagstaff"), we spent a few minutes talking about flying, kids, and flying with kids. I shared with her the story of using her as a positive example for Egg as to what women can do in today's world, and she told me that that was a very gratifying thing to hear.

So, without further bloviating, here's what you really want to see: the pictures I took today. As always, click on the picture to see a larger version:

Patty's other plane. Everyone should have (access to) at least one P-51!

Ugh! Forgot to suck in the gut!!


  1. I love the charts that show her maneuvers. It's unbelievable, really. I can barely get a plane to stay straight and level, in calm winds, and I can't hardly read a chart. And what these folks do upside down, rightside up and everywhere in between is humbling to me, to say the least.

  2. I thought the little "kick ass" label on the panel was intriguing too. I wish I had thought to ask her about it.

    It's looking 50-50 now that I might be able to get away from work long enough to go to the show on Sunday. If I do, you can bet that I will have a printed copy of her "music" on hand to follow along through the show!

  3. Awesome post! Great photos and seems an interesting time to meet Patty. Not bad having a P-51 as a 2nd (3rd?) airplane. Is she single? (Just asking for a friend, ya know.)