Clay Lacy donates business jets to LA aviation school

VAN NUYS, Calif. — Veteran pilot and business aviation pioneer Clay Lacy has donated two retired corporate jets — a Learjet 24 and Gulfstream GIISP — to an aircraft mechanics school at Van Nuys Airport (VNY).

Operated by the Los Angeles Unified School District’s North Valley Occupational Center-Aviation (NVOC-Aviation), the adult education program has prepared individuals for careers as airframe and power plant mechanics for more than 40 years. Both aircraft will be used to expand current curriculum and hands-on shop assignments.

Clay Lacy Speaking at Ceremony“Aircraft maintenance is one of the most important jobs in the aviation industry to protect the safety of air crew and passengers,” Lacy said. “Currently, there’s a global shortage of qualified, entry-level mechanics. This program is ranked among the top in the nation and enables nearly all graduates to land great jobs working on private, commercial and military aircraft. I know because we hire them!”

The donation holds special meaning to Lacy, who landed the first Learjet at Van Nuys Airport in 1964 and, four years later, founded Clay Lacy Aviation as the first jet charter company on the West Coast. Today, the company is the airport’s longest-standing tenant.

“Our community needs the support of business leaders such as Clay Lacy for young people to succeed in today’s workforce and keep our country competitive,” said U.S. Congressman Tony Cardenas at a ceremony honoring Lacy for his contributions. “Throughout his legendary career, he has demonstrated not only a passion for aviation, but a deep commitment to enabling the next generation of aviation professionals to let their dreams take flight.”

Clay Lacy Pilot Eric Wroolie and students

Clay Lacy Pilot Eric Wroolie and students

In their prime, the Learjet 24, built in 1968, and Gulfstream GIISP, built in 1979, served as flagships of the Clay Lacy Aviation fleet and helped launch a new era in corporate air transportation and mobility.

The 12-passenger Gulfstream GIISP served as the charter aircraft of choice for heads of state, global business leaders, legendary entertainers and sports icons. Among its most famous passengers were U.S. President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan, and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Margaret Thatcher.

Lacy flew the GIISP to worldwide locations, including Australia, Israel, Monaco, Brazil and China. Traversing the globe, the GIISP accumulated approximately 16,000 flight hours — the equivalent of 7.2 million miles— while part of the Clay Lacy Aviation charter fleet.

The GIISP was also one of the first aircraft equipped with blended winglets, enabling Lacy to set a world speed record in 1995 on a flight from Los Angeles to Paris en route to the Paris Air Show. Lacy went on to set additional speed records on flights from Moscow to Los Angeles and Los Angeles to Kitty Hawk, N.C., and a time-to-climb record in Santa Maria, Calif.

“At the time, I could start up the GII and fly it anywhere in the world,” Lacy said. “Its hydraulic and electrical systems are very similar to those found on modern aircraft today, which provides a valuable hands-on learning opportunity. Students can see how everything works together on a complete aircraft, not just individual components.”

The six-passenger Learjet 24 was the 167th aircraft of its type ever built and among Lacy’s personal favorites.

“I flew the Lear from Los Angeles to the East Coast and throughout the U.S.,” he said. “Its modified wing with thrust reversers made it ideal for landing at short airfields.”

The high-speed jet’s frequent fliers included some of Hollywood’s most legendary personalities such as Ann-Margret, Suzanne Somers, Paul Anka, Johnny Carson, Jay Leno, Robert Redford and Sydney Pollack. During its storied career, it accumulated approximately 17,000 flight hours, the equivalent of 8.7 million miles.

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