A giant in aviation accomplishments, Clay Lacy, set his sites on flying at the age of 8. He got his student permit at 14 and with that piece of paper claiming he was two years older, it was easy for Lacy to gain his private pilot license and instructor’s rating. With 1,500 hours already logged by 1952, he began flying for United Airlines.
One of Lacy’s closest friends, Allen Paulson, owner of California Airmotive, began bung and selling aircraft, with Lacy ferrying his aircraft. Lacy was later involved with the Lear Jet, which made its first flight in October 1963. California Airmotive signed on as the Lear Jet distributor for 11 Western states and Lacy served as manager of sales. By the end of 1966, actor Danny Kaye joined the team and the distributorship was renamed Pacific Lear Jet.
One of California Airmotive’s biggest advantages was their proximity to Hollywood. In the mid-sixties, Lacy began filming air-to-air footage. He has served as pilot, director and/or videographer on over 3,000 flights requiring air-to-air photography. He’s done work for every major aircraft manufacturer, airline, and every branch of the U.S. military and six foreign branches. He’s made over 200 flights for Hollywood film productions, and was known as the FBO of choice for guests that were scheduled to appear on the Johnny Carson or Jay Leno shows.
Lacy started the first on-demand jet charter-company in Los Angeles in 1968 and in 1981 opened his all-turbine fix base facility and hangars in Van Nuys, expanding later to Seattle. He continued to fly with United until August 1992, retiring with number one seniority.
An enthusiastic air racer, Lacy participated in the first National Championship Air Races and Air Show in 1964 at Reno in his P-51D. From that year through 1969, he took third in the unlimited class before becoming the unlimited class champion in 1970. He participated in other racing events, including “The Great Race,“ from London to Quebec in 1971, which he won, and has set and holds many world speed records. He has flown more than 300 different aircraft types and has over 30 different type ratings.