Flying legend Clay Lacy has come aboard the Gala Host Committee of the Endeavor Awards celebrating Public Benefit Aviation.
“Clay Lacy is a true pioneer in so many aspects of aviation, from air-to-air shooting of Hollywood action movies through helping to establish Public Benefit Aviation,” said Mark Wolper, President & Executive Producer of The Wolper Organization at Warner Bros. and Chair of the Endeavor Awards Host Committee. “In 1965, Clay and actor, comedian and pilot Danny Kaye flew several hundred hours in a Learjet together, making charity flights to benefit the United Nations Children’s Fund. And in 1986, using his invention, Astrovision, Lacy revolutionized air-to-air cinematography, recording such action-packed aerial sequences as Paramount Pictures’ Top Gun, starring Tom Cruise.”
Growing up in the farmland of Wichita, Kansas, during the Great Depression, Lacy developed an early fascination with flight. He learned how to build model airplanes at age 5 and created his first gasoline-powered flying model at age 8. At age 12, he piloted his first aircraft at Cannonball Airport, built on his grandmother’s farm about three miles outside the city limits of Wichita, where he worked in exchange for flying time. In 1948, at age 16, he earned a flight instructor rating.
By age 19, Lacy had accumulated nearly 2,000 hours of flight time as both an instructor and ferry pilot. In January 1952, he joined United Airlines as copilot on the Douglas DC-3 aircraft and was stationed at Los Angeles International Airport, where he was based for his entire airline career, including the transition from smaller propeller-driven passenger planes like the Douglas DC-3 ‘Gooney Bird’ to giant jetliners such as the Boeing 747-400. Lacy retired seniority No. 1 in 1992 after 41½ years of incident-free flying.
In 1954, Lacy took military leave from United Airlines to join the California Air National Guard at Van Nuys Airport, where he flew the F-86 Sabre jet and became the officer in charge of instrument training. He was called to active duty in 1961 for one year during the Berlin crisis, flying the C-97 Stratofreighter on missions to Japan and Vietnam, retiring from military service three years later.
In 1964, Lacy flew the first Learjet into Van Nuys Airport in proximity to Hollywood’s burgeoning entertainment industry, shaping a new era in corporate air transportation and mobility.
In 1968, he founded Clay Lacy Aviation as the first jet charter company on the West Coast.
Lacy holds 29 world speed records, including a 36-hour, 54-minute, and 15-second around the world record in 1988 flying a Boeing 747SP called “Friendship One” that raised $530,000 for children’s charities.
In 2010, Lacy was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame for his achievements as an aviation pioneer.
On May 4, 2014, Lacy joins with the Gala Host Committee to welcome leading aviators, astronauts, Hollywood luminaries and guests celebrating Public Benefit Aviation at the Inaugural Endeavor Awards event.
The Endeavor Awards Gala honors the pilots, individuals and support organizations, corporations and government agencies most responsible for providing Public Benefit Aviation.