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- January 14, 2016Meet the first French Breitling Wingwalker Stephanie
- January 12, 2016Breitling Wingwalkers 2016
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Stéphanie is the newest member of the team and also the first ever French Breitling Wingwalker!
Stéphanie is the kind of person who belongs in the sky. She started her aviation career a few years ago as a VIP Flight Attendant, first for the French Air Force and then for Corporate Aviation. When not flying for work Stéphanie spent her days off at her local flying club, working to get her Private Pilots Licence in order to fulfil her dream of flying aerobatics by herself. She also attended many airshows and it was at a French airshow where she first encountered the Breitling Wingwalkers.
Stéphanie was completely fascinated by the team - especially the girls who she thought were glamorous, graceful and always smiling. She also had to have a go on the wing! So for her next birthday present she asked her parents for a wingwalking experience at the team’s base in England.
Stéphanie fell in love with the thrill of wingwalking after experiencing it for herself. So when the team advertised a vacancy a few months later, she applied for the position and travelled back to the UK for an interview and audition on the wing. The team was bowled over by her enthusiasm and determination and shortly after offered Stéphanie a full time position on the team.
Her first airshow was in an extraordinary setting over the sand dunes of the United Arab Emirates, but of course she is mostly looking forward to performing in France during the 2016 display season!
Freya first saw the team display at Southport Airshow when studying Performing Arts at college and ever since she longed to join the team. In 2012 Freya beat over 100 applicants to be included in a shortlisted few who were invited for an interview and audition on the wing. It was a dream come true for Freya when she was selected to join the team.
Since becoming a Breitling Wingwalker Freya has travelled the World, performing all over Europe, in China, the Middle East and even as far as Australia.
This is not the first performance role for Freya, before joining the team she worked as Disney characters at Disneyland Paris – including dressing up as Princesses and Winnie the Pooh!
Freya loves the loops best and was surprised by the strong wind pressure – she never thought it would be easy, but the force of 150mph was a lot more than she ever expected!
Photograph Courtesy of Gloucestershire Media
Emily joined the Breitling Wingwalkers for the 2014 season. She was introduced to the spectacle of wingwalking through her sister Stella who has been a member of the team since 2009.
Ever since seeing Stella perform at her first show Emily wanted to have a go herself, so when she heard the team were looking for a part time wingwalker she jumped at the chance. Emily is now the third member of her family to fly on the wing of a Boeing Stearman as her Dad has also experienced the thrill. The sister’s family were delighted when they heard they were going to be performing together and can't wait to see them in action.
Emily loves anything that is fun and outdoors and spends her spare time skiing, mountain biking and horse riding and now wingwalking has been added to the list. She is a Geography graduate and works for an environmental consultancy and loves being able to get away from her desk and get her adrenaline fix in such a unique way.
Emily says it’s an incredible feeling to be on top of a plane flying so close to her fellow wingwalkers and the loop the loop is her favourite part of the routine. When strapping in a member of the press for a wingwalk she loves seeing their emotions transform from terrified to complete elation once landed!
Nikita graduated from Cardiff University where she studied Psychology and Sociology. After moving back home to Northleach in 2013 she was thrilled to find an advert in the local paper for a part time wingwalker. As a child, Nikita went to many airshows and was frequently a spectator at the Royal International Air Tattoo, Fairford. She says she was always captivated by the magic of the team and the amazing display, but never thought it would be possible to be a part of it.
Her family have always been involved in the aviation world, her mother and father were both in the RAF and her father continues to fly today for an airline. Because of her parents love of flying they were extremely excited when Nikita said she wanted to apply for the wingwalking position. However they thought she was mad wanting to be strapped to the outside of the plane rather than be inside it!
Nikita says the thrill of wingwalking provides a sensation that very few are lucky enough to experience and nothing compares to the speed and exhilaration of diving into the sky and pulling out of a loop.
Nikita is also a primary school teacher. Her pupils are always a little surprised when they first learn about her weekend job on the wing!
Stella had always wanted to wingwalk and in 2009 was delighted to see the team were searching for a new wingwalker. She applied for the position and was thrilled to be offered a place on the team.
Stella loves flying and high adrenalin activities and is a keen skydiver . She says the feeling she gets flying through the air skydiving, compares only to performing a wingwalking display. Both of these activities cause her to experience speeds of up to 150mph, positive and negative G-forces and she loves it!
Stella really enjoys the travelling aspect of being on the team. She has displayed at several events throughout Europe and also over the Arabian Desert. She especially enjoys attending a show when her parents or friends come along to support her, as this makes her feel very proud knowing they are watching.
Stella's favourite manoeuvre is the loop when she experiences 4 G, making her feel 4 times heavier. She loves the still feeling at the top of the loop before diving down at 150mph.
Stella says she really likes it when the team are able to land after their performance as she loves to meet people on the ground and even sign a few programmes.
Stella's sister Emily has recently joined the team and the sisters are really looking forward to flying together this season.
Sarah was always captivated by the brave, graceful wingwalkers dancing on the top wing at airshows. A fascination with flying and a love of dance made performing in the skies a perfect match. However, having assumed the girls on the wing were the pilots' daughters, she never thought she would actually get the chance to dance on the wings herself.
Sarah pursued a career in events management, obtaining a degree and working on many events including Glastonbury Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe. It was not until seeing the team display years later when working at the Bristol Balloon Fiesta that Sarah, spurred on by her adventurous boss, threw caution to the wind and enquired about joining the team. Learning there was a vacancy for a new wingwalker, she applied for the position and after interviews and an audition on the wing was delighted to be offered the job.
Since joining the team back in 2006, Sarah has enjoyed taking on an operations role in the team office. Working with the owner and the Director of Flying she helps to run the team as well as training new recruits in the art of wingwalking. Sarah also manages the customer wingwalking experiences side of the business, so if you are interested in having a go on the wing yourself you should get in touch.
Alongside her additional responsibilities, Sarah still loves the adrenaline rush of looping and rolling through the sky at 150mph and climbing around the aircraft in flight. She particularly loves the exhilarating feeling of freedom when sitting on the leading edge of the top wing for the 'Windrider Pass'.
Danielle had dreamt of becoming a wingwalker since the age of 6 after her parents took her to a her first local airshow. It was there she experienced the spectacle of the glamorous wingwalkers in action on top of their colourful vintage biplanes. This really inspired her and started an ambition to wingwalk that she was determined to achieve.
Danielle has always been an active person and really enjoys a challenge, especially if there is a competitive element to it. At the age of 14, she became the then national Tae Kwon Do Black Belt Second Dan British Champion. She likes to keep her fitness up in her spare time by jogging and going to the gym.
Danielle loves performing the wingwalking display routine. She particularly enjoys the thrill of climbing around the aircraft in flight, which requires a lot of physical strength. Her favourite manouevre is the 'Cockpit Lady'. Demonstrating amazing strength and balance, Danielle stands on one leg in front of her pilot's windscreen, halfway between the cockpit and the wing.
Danielle has also added to her talents by gaining her Private Pilot's License in 2008.
Lydia moved from Shropshire to join the Wingwalking team for the 2014 season.
Lydia spent her childhood riding horses and developed a need for speed and adrenaline. So after hearing about the Breitling Wingwalker vacancy, she jumped at the chance of a lifetime.
Her first flight was in the pouring rain and wind and even that didn't put her off. The thrill of plummeting during the loop makes her feel free as a bird and she also loves learning new wingwalking manoeuvres. Having a passion for travelling she particularly enjoys this aspect of being part of the team.
Lydia's favourite move is the Mirror, where she hangs upside down on the inverted plane while reaching for the hands of the wingwalker flying below her.
Photograph by Richard Foord