Tulsa Woman Sets New Wing Walking World Record; Ready To Go Again


Saturday, June 26th 2010, 11:00 pm
By: News On 6


By Nicole Wiseman, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- One of Tulsa's own has set a new world record.

You may have seen her performing in Tulsa's air show in April. Now, Ashley Battles' latest performance has made aviation history.

Battles has been wing walking for 7 years, and now holds the title for the Guinness World Record Longest Duration Wing Walk. To earn this title, Battles stood on the wing of a biplane for 4 hours.

"It's amazing," Battles said. "It's just an odd feeling. Your view is so different because you're standing on the top of an airplane and you have a peripheral view of things no one could ever see unless they're standing right there with you. So just the feeling of knowing that you're pretty much on top of the world is what it feels like."

Wing walking involves getting out of an airplane's cockpit and climbing onto the top wing of a biplane airplane.

Last weekend, Battles wing walked over San Francisco with a purpose – to set a new world record. Traveling at 100 miles per hour with forceful winds, Battles made it look carefree.

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"We toured the Golden Gate Bridge, I had my own personal tour of Alcatraz and the beautiful downtown coastline in San Francisco," Battles said.

To attempt the feat, Battles prepared herself physically, as well as mentally.

"You just tell yourself you're going to break the record. You just tell yourself it's going to be cold. And you just tell yourself that what you're doing is about to make aviation history. You just tell yourself this is going to be amazing. And you just do it," Battles said.

And she did, setting a new wing walking world record of 4 hours and 2 minutes, beating the previous record of 3 hours, 23 minutes.

"It was so overwhelming I cried the minute I got off the wing. I couldn't stop it," said Battles.

Watch video of Battles wing walk over San Francisco.

Getting to that point, took determination and dedication.

"It's really just constant practicing where to stand, where to hold. The wind is incredible, so the force of the wind you have to modify everything you do in the air. I can't even do a cartwheel, but for some reason I can crawl all over the wing of an airplane like a gymnast," Battles said.

"All the hard work, all the lost sleep, all the nights away from my own bed are absolutely worth it in the end and I'm still ready to go again," said Battles.

Battles is honored and feels lucky to hold the new world record, but the victory isn't slowing her down.

"We are making more modifications on the airplane and considering breaking our own record again (in July)," Battles said. "And really, while four hours was difficult, I don't feel like it was extreme enough."

But don't be fooled, while she feels invincible on the wing of an airplane, Battles admits she's only human.

"I drive like a grandma. I'm terrified of motorcycles and spiders. However, when it comes to wing walking, I truly am fearless," said Battles. "It's an adrenaline rush that's not like racing cars or a roller coaster. It's just really in a group of its own. And I just crave that feeling every time I know I'm about to get up on the wing."

Battles says wing walking for four hours was not just physically draining, but emotionally too.

She had her iPod playing the whole time, which she says helped buffer the noise of the plane.

Battles is part of an elite group, as there are just six active wing walkers in the country.

"I feel like the other wing walkers are really just a part of my family. We are a very close group of people and I consider them my closest friends," Battles said. "I mean, we really understand everything we're doing and going through and we all pretty much have the same reasons for doing it -- we have no other choice. It's just pretty much what we were designed to do."

6/21/2010  Related Story: Tulsan Sets Wing Walking World Record

4/25/2010  Related Story: Air Show Wing Walker Leaves Fears On The Ground