Clay Lacy (born August 14, 1932) is the founder and chief executive officer of Clay LacyAviation, established in 1968 as the first executive jet charter company in the Western United States. His professional career includes serving as airline captain, military aviator, experimental test pilot, air race champion, world record-setter, aerial cinematographer and business aviation entrepreneur. Lacy has flown more than 300 aircraft types, logged more than 50,000 flight hours and accumulated more hours flying turbine aircraft than any other pilot.
With 29 world speed records under his belt, Lacy’s name has appeared in many newspaper headlines and aviation record books.
On Sept. 19, 1962 in California’s Mojave Desert, Lacy and fellow Air National Guard pilot Jack Conroy attracted national attention when they made the first flight of thePregnant Guppy, a Boeing 377 Stratocruiser modified to carry the Saturn rocket booster in support of the U.S. space program. The aircraft carried its first payload forNASA to Cape Canaveral one year later.
In 1973, Lacy and fellow United Airlines pilot William Arnott made aviation and education history by organizing an around-the-world flight in a chartered United Airlines DC-8 jetliner for aeronautical students from Mount San Antonio College located in Walnut, California. Two years later in 1975, Lacy and the same crew flew students on an eight-day South American sojourn. These tour flights named “Classroom in the Sky” pioneered the concept of education from a jet plane.
One of Lacy’s most notable achievements was setting a new around-the-world speed record in 1988 with his 36-hour, 54-minute, 15-second flight in a Boeing United747SP called “Friendship One.” With U.S. astronaut and Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong on board as guest of honor, along with other aviation notables and celebrities, this record-breaking flight raised $530,000 for children’s charities worldwide. Lacy and his wife Lois, along with long-time friends Bruce McCaw and Joe Clark, organized the flight, which averaged over 623 miles per hour and topped the previous record by 112 miles per hour.
In 1995, Lacy was one of the first aircraft owners to equip his Gulfstream jets with Blended Winglet™ technology developed by Aviation Partners Inc., founded by Joe Clark and Dennis Washington. That June, in a Gulfstream IISP inscribed with the words “Wings of Change” across its side, Lacy and Clark set world speed records during a flight from Los Angeles to Paris. The flight culminated with display of the jet at the Paris Air Show. On the way home, they also established a world speed record from Moscow to Los Angeles. Lacy and Clark set yet another speed record in the Gulfstream IISP in 2003 on a flight from Los Angeles to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
During Lacy’s 1999 “Midway 2000” flight to celebrate the New Year, he and 40 guests traveled over the Pacific Ocean to be among the first to enter the new millennium. Lacy piloted his Boeing 727 from Southern California by way of Hawaii and Midway Island to the International Dateline. Cruising just one-tenth of a mile west of the imaginary line where every day officially begins, the passengers then passed into January 1, 2000 while it was still 4 a.m. on December 31, 1999 on the West Coast. In a period of one hour, the group traveled through five date changes before celebrating the New Year on the ground in Midway Island 24 hours later.
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