When I met my husband I asked him to describe his ideal woman. His list was: adventuresome, fun, long brown hair, five- foot- two inches tall, athletic and a kind heart. I am five foot seven, blonde hair, fun, not athletic, not adventuresome, but I do have a kind heart and I am a woman. Now, thirty eight years later, I am his woman. I might not be his ideal woman, but I am his woman.
A few years into our marriage, Scott got his pilot’s license. He started in a Cessna 152 and graduated to aerobatic planes. I thought I’d try to be a bit adventuresome and take a ride in a bi-plane. It looked low and slow. They hooked up my parachute vest. “Just in case,” they said. I told myself it was a small price to pay to see my husband so happy that I was becoming his ideal woman. Let’s just say that people on the ground could hear my screams when he took a very steep right turn and I felt like I was falling out of the plane.
When an all woman aerobatic air show was scheduled at our local airport, we were the first to arrive. There were a dozen female pilots scheduled to soar through the sky, including a wing walker. Let me just say, that is not on my bucket list. I could barely watch her climb on the wings like a spider.
I knew of Patty Wagstaff because she was a legend in aerobatic flying. She was the first woman to win the U.S. National Aerobatic Championship. She can maneuver a plane like its putty in her hands.
I was standing near the refreshment stand (naturally) when a trailer door opened and a slim woman with wild, long, loose brown hair bounced down the steps. She was sprouting a white jumpsuit with the American flag on the front pocket. She had a great smile and greeted everyone at the tent. I liked her immediately.
My husband hailed, “That’s Patty Wagstaff! She is amazing!” Of course she was! She weighed about a hundred pounds. Her long brown, wild, wavy, hair blew in the wind and her teeth were disgustingly white. To make matters worse, she could pull ten G’s in an aerobatic pane and fly like eagle. She was my husband’s ideal woman. So that’s who I should be.
When the time came for her show, she limberly climbed into her Extra 300, stuffed that long hair in her helmet, and pulled down the lid over the cockpit. The music started and she made the plane dance to God Bless America and Proud to be an American. She buzzed the crowd, upside down, one hundred feet off the ground. She literally was the best of the best.
When she landed I was a mess in a dress, tears all over my face. She really was a rock star and now I loved her, (almost). The journalists were hustled into an area for a photo shoot and because I had a long angle lens’ hanging off my neck, they thought I was official and held the rope open for me. I was fogging up my sunglasses with tears, but I acted like a professional.
I caught up to Patty as she led the pack to the interview area. “Patty, you’re making me look very dull,” I moaned to her. She looked at me and grinned, “Me? Why?” she asked seriously. We were almost girlfriends now. “Well I can barely climb a ladder without having a panic attack and you are swirling and diving like a wild woman in that tiny plane.” Then I added, “My husband is so enamored with your talent.”
Shaking that wild hair, she said, “My mother used to compare me to my cousin all the time. I hated that. She used to dress prettier. Her hair was always perfect. It made me feel inferior.” She pushed her hair away from her face, looked me in the eye and said, “What’s you name?” I told her. “Listen, Anne, don’t fall for that! Just be yourself. He’s a lucky man! Now, let’s go take some photos.”
That’s the moment I fell in love with Patty Wagstaff. I’ll always remember that day. She was not only talented in the sky; she was one classy lady, on the ground. I gained new respect for her.
It seems my husband has very good taste in women.