Events

April 12, 2012

Tombstone Riders Wingwalking

The world’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. You’ll be amazed as Pilon hops out of her seat and scrambles onto the aircraft’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 pilot’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, she’s still among the youngest performers, many of whom are in their 40s or 50s. Pemberton said she’s used to hearing comments about her youth, but she doesn’t mind.

Though women comprise only about 6 percent of the aviation industry, Pilon said she’s seen the number of female pilots increasing recently and hopes to encourage more girls to get involved.




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(U.S. Air National Guard photo by 2nd Lt. Lacey Roberts)

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