Wagstaff Denies Impaired Driving 'Rumors'
Air show pilot Patty Wagstaff is denying "rumors" that she was impaired by alcohol when she was taken into custody by Winnebago County Sheriff's Department officers late July 31 on a runway at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh. She told AVweb she was not tested for alcohol impairment during the incident. A report in the Green Bay Press Gazette last week said the Sheriff's Office has asked the Winnebago County District Attorney to press first-offense drunken driving charges against her and it will be up to the DA to decide whether the charge will proceed. "I do deny the allegations," she told AVweb. "And I did not do a breath test, a blood test or a field sobriety test." Although we still don't know all the details surrounding the runway incident, Wagstaff has provided AVweb with the following statement:
On Thursday, July 31, at Oshkosh about 11 p.m., I was driving from the Gathering of Eagles dinner at the EAA Museum to the North side of the airport, on airport property. My vehicle had the proper credentials, and I planned to take a route to the north side of the field down the taxiway along runway 18/36, through the warbirds area and then on the perimeter road. It was really dark, the runway was closed and I mistakenly ended up on the runway for about 1500' to the end of runway 36, before turning off onto the grass into the warbirds area.
As soon as I turned off the runway I was stopped by EAA Security, who promptly called the Winnebago County Sheriff and two police cars arrived. The police quickly took me into custody and I was released at 2:30 am and have since retained a lawyer. Even though I had a driver with me at the time I chose to drive because I had navigated this route before and it was very dark that night. Reports that I was driving impaired are simply not grounded in fact and are nothing more than rumors.
Obviously I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and I feel horrible about this and am very sorry for any trouble I've caused. I would like to warn all pilots to be mindful and present when operating any airport. In today's climate of heightened security, it is easy to see how an innocent mistake at any airport can lead to a frightening experience.