December 24, 2008
Clay Lacy

          Clay Lacy

My day started great when the hotel lady said "You have a great smile!" 

Clay Lacy.  I arrived at Clay Lacy Aviation about fifteen minutes early.  I had woken up at 8am, thought it was enough time to prepare for a 10am meeting.  I started reading an article on my laptop about Clay Lacy's life and the next thing I knew it was 9am and I hadn't even taken a shower yet.  I rushed and it all worked out.

Lacy Aviation is located right at the Van Nuys Airport.  I parked in visitor parking and then walked to the front door.  It was a beautiful sunny California day.  Just yesterday I was in the storms of frigid cold Seattle, but here today I was in Sunny Southern California, 75 degrees, tee shirts and shorts everywhere.

I was met by a cute receptionisth who called up to Melanie, Mr. Lacy's executive assistant.  Melanie came down and unlocked a large conference room for me.  I began to set up my equipment.  The walls of the conference room were covered by numerous original paintings of the many airplanes and aircraft from Clay Lacy's life.  There was a large painting about a very strange looking plane called a "guppy."

I asked the receptionist for a blank piece of white paper that I could use to set my "white balance" on my High Definition camera.  I used it for the white balance and also to write down the main subjects that I wanted to discuss.  I set up the lights and camera and angled it all so a nice model of a jet would be right behind the subject's right shoulder.

Clay Lacy came in wearing a brown suit with a tie.  Clay is a big man with lots of wrinkles from a a good life.  We shook hands and he asked, "So, what's this all about?"  I told him I was a professional video biographer who has been hired to shoot videos for the Legends of Aviation event to be held in Beverly Hills in January.

I told him that if Airport Journals likes the videos we might go back and do video interviews with all the previous 7 years recipients, including himself, who was a true Legend of Aviation.

I talked to Clay about my pro-bono work with the Veterans History Project and my goal to interview 100 World War II veterans. 

We sat down an the interview began.  I asked Clay to talk about the legendary aviator Johnny Myers.  Clay talked for a good length of time about Johnny Myers, and then he talked about other legends including Bob Hoover, Linden Blue, and Sidney Pollock the film director.  We talked about Milt Kuolt for a while and then we talked about the difference between a pilot and an aviator..

Clay told some great stories about his friendship with aviators and entrepreneurs. As we wrapped up the inteview, Clay asked if I wanted a tour of his aircraft.  I asked if I could take my camera.  He said "Sure."

Clay loaded us into his white Lexus SUV and we drove around the air hangars for about an hour.  I was able to record a lot of great footage and Clay telling great stories about each plane.  He showed me several different kinds of planes including a Citation, a P-51, and lots more. 

Along the way we talked about his dad and his mentors and his life.  We talked about his 52000 hours logged as a pilot, and some of the changes he has seen in his life.  We returned to his office and he showed me his incredible wall of photos from the movies (including TOP GUN) he has shot and the planes he has flown.  There were pictures of Clay with lots of movie stars including Danny Kaye and Frank Sinatra.

Clay said I should shoot an interview with a guy named "B-27 Ben" who flew 35 missions over Tokyo during World War II.  Clay said he would call me with Ben's phone number.  We shook hands and I grabbed my equipment.   As I was leaving I saw Clay was busy with one of his employees, so I gave him a salute goodbye. 

I really enjoyed my short visit with Clay Lacy.  A real nice guy.

Leave a comment*

Note: All comments must be approved by the post author.