Alumni Hall Of Fame » Debbie Gary Class of 1965

Debbie Gary Class of 1965

Ms. Gary graduated from William MacFarland High School in 1965.
After graduation, she attended George Washington University for two years.
She left college when her father asked her to take off a semester in 1967 to go
with him to St. Thomas where he was beginning a construction job. Her
long career in aviation began during that time.

In 1969, Debbie attended the University of Florida for one year. “A number
of people suggested that since I was a flight instructor I might like to study
Aeronautical engineering.” When she realized the curriculum had little to
do with the actual flying that she loved, Debbie left after a former boss
lured her away to another adventurous flying job.

In 1983, Debbie returned to college at the University of Houston to take
creative writing courses. Her course work was part time since she had to
divide her time between school and being a mother and wife. She received
her degree in Journalism in 1994 graduating Magna Cum Laude.

Debbie had a unique aviation career flying airshows throughout the US,
Canada and parts of Mexico and the Caribbean from 1971 until 2009 and
writing for aviation magazines from 1995 to the present. She took flying
lessons at Trenton Aviation at Mercer County Airport in 1966 and later
completed her first flying license in St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands.
She began her career in 1968 at a glider flying school in St. Croix. She
spent some time flying tourists between Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands
but quickly realized that the adventurous side of aviation-teaching in
gliders and flying upside down for a living was more her style. In 1969,
she flew her first glider demonstration at an airshow in St. Croix and in 1971
she flew her first aerobatic airshow at the Warren-Sugarbush Airport in

From 1971 to late 1973 Debbie toured the US and Canada leading a two
plane formation aerobatic team with Jim Holland Airshows. In 1973,
she competed against 39 other pilots for a position on a fully sponsored
four-biplane aerobatic team. She won a slot and from 1973 until 1975 flew
the number four position on the Carling Aerobatic Team based in
Ontario. This job made her the first woman in the world to fly a
“wing position” on a formation aerobatic team. After the Carling Team
disbanded in 1975, she was invited to try out for the Bede Jet Team
based in Newton, Kansas. The twelve and a half foot long Bede Micro-
jet was the smallest jet in the world, and the three jet team was the
flying sensation of the aviation world in the early to mid-seventies. She
flew the number three position, left wing, throughout the 1975 airshow
season and became the first woman in the world to fly on a formation
jet aerobatic team. She left to fly solo after the team disbanded.

From 1976 to 1982, Debbie flew as a full time solo airshow performer,
flying the open-cockpit Pitts Special biplane and later the factory
demonstration aircraft for Bellanca Aircraft in their four-place, sedan s
style Bellanca Viking. She later married the president of Bellanca, Jim
Callier, had two children and began to fly airshows on a part time basis.
Debbie few over 100 different kinds of air-planes and in 2000 became
one of the first women in the world to fly with a wing-walker on her wing.

In 2012, Debbie was inducted into the International Council of Airshows
Hall of Fame, in 2017 she was honored by the International Council of
Airshows Foundation in their “Pioneer/Trailblazer Corner for being the
first woman in the world on a formation aerobatic team.

Debbie served as a volunteer at the Experimental Aircraft Associations
convention in Wisconsin, as the manager of the Charlie Hillard Air
Operations Building until 2015. She also served on the ICAS Board of
Directors, OCAS Foundation Board of Directors raising money for
scholarships and family funds. Debbie is also involved in the Young
Eagles and is also involved with “Inprint.”

Debbie had her own airshow, “Debbie Gary Airshows” that was
featured in a book called Front Row Center 2: Inside the World’s
Greatest Air Shows by Eric Hildebrandt.