A capacity audience celebrated Clay Lacy’s receipt of the Aero Club’s Howard Hughes Memorial Award at the Club’s annual gala banquet in February at the Jonathan Club in Los Angeles.
Lacy, one of the world’s most experienced pilots and a widely known business innovator and philanthropist, became the 33rd aviation leader to be honored with the coveted award.
The traditional award medallion, made of silver from a Nevada mine formerly owned by Hughes, was presented to Lacy by his old friend and colleague Bob Hoover, the awardee for 2009. Lacy recalled that he has known and admired Hoover since 1955.
A retired United Airlines captain, ex-military aviator, former air racing pilot and experimental test pilot, Lacy heads an aircraft charter and leasing operation based at Van Nuys Airport. He is a pioneer in the use of specially equipped camera aircraft for filming aerial scenes used in Hollywood feature movies and television commercials.
Lacy told the audience how he met Howard Hughes at the Van Nuys Airport almost 60 years ago. At the time, Lacy was flying a Convair 240 for United and was questioned at length about that aircraft’s performance by Hughes, who at the time owned and flew the same model Convair. He described Hughes as being “as wonderful an aviator as he was an innovator.” Of his own career, Lacy said he often thinks “lucky me, for being at the right place at the right time.”
In the banquet audience, along with Aero Club members and their guests, were a great many of Lacy’s longtime friends including a number of legendary figures from the worlds of civil and military aviation.