The worldâ€™s only current all-female wing-walking team will take to the Arizona skies this weekend, infusing a Western narrative with awe-dropping aerobatics and stunts.
The Tombstone Riders act is a tale of Wild West desperadoes, complete with costumes and voice-overs starring Carol Pilon and Melissa Pemberton creating the only all-women wingwalking act in the world. Youâ€™ll be amazed as Pilon hops out of her seat and scrambles onto the aircraftâ€™s wing as Pemberton performs an aerobatic routine. Their performance is themed around a crew of Wild West desperadoes.
A native of Canada, Pilon owns the North American team Third Strike Wingwalking, while Pemberton of Pittsburgh owns Pemberton Aerosports (formerly Melissa Aerosports).
In her mid-20s, Pilon had quit school and was unsure what to do with her life. She came home from work and saw a wing-walking act on television and had a sudden revelation.
For Pemberton, aviation was a family affair from a young age. Her grandmother gave Pemberton her first aerobatics lesson in elementary school, in her Cessna 150 Aerobat. When she was a teenager, her grandfather, a test pilot, let her take the pilotâ€™s seat and taught her the basics of flying.
By age 22, Pemberton was the youngest woman on the U.S. Unlimited Aerobatics Team, and now, at age 27, sheâ€™s still among the youngest performers, many of whom are in their 40s or 50s. Pemberton said sheâ€™s used to hearing comments about her youth, but she doesnâ€™t mind.
Though women comprise only about 6 percent of the aviation industry, Pilon said sheâ€™s seen the number of female pilots increasing recently and hopes to encourage more girls to get involved.