San Fernando Valley pilot and businessman Clay Lacy was honored Oct. 11 with the highest award from the trade group representing the business aviation industry.
Lacy received the Meritorious Service to Aviation Award Tuesday at the National Business Aviation Association’s annual convention, which is being held in Las Vegas through Oct. 12.
The award recognizes lasting contributions to aviation. Past recipients include Charles Lindbergh, the crews of the Space Shuttle, test pilot A. Scott Crossfield, and aircraft inventor Burt Rutan.
“Even at my age there is a lot more flying to do,” said Lacy, who began as a pilot while growing up in Kansas in the 1930s.
For more 60 years, Lacy’s career has touched upon all aspects of aviation — commercial and military pilot, air racing, piloting the first flights of five aircraft, pioneering business aviation at Van Nuys Airport, and developing expertise as an aerial photographer for feature films and commercials. Lacy started his air charter and aircraft management firm in Van Nuys in 1968. He is often credited with introducing the Lear Jet to the West Coast.
Award winners are a high group of company, and Lacy fits comfortably within that group, said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen.
While the business aviation industry is suffering problems, Lacy said the industry must stand together and send its message.
“It is too good to let die out,” Lacy said. “The world’s economy depends on aviation.”
The ceremony honoring Lacy featured a panel discussion of fellow pilots, including Apollo 17 astronaut Eugene Cernan, Federal Aviation Administrator Randy Babbit, actor Harrison Ford, and test and air show pilot Bob Hoover.
Ford called Lacy widely admired in Hollywood for his contributions in filming aircraft in flight. Lacy knows how to be in the right place at the right time to capture the beauty of flight with a camera, Ford said.
“That takes an experience as a pilot, and Clay is an innovator in that area,” Ford said.
Hoover recounted a New Year’s Eve trip with Lacy to the Pacific Ocean, where Lacy wanted to see how many times he could cross the International Date Line with an airplane. While the passengers enjoyed themselves drinking champagne, Lacy had to abstain as the pilot, Hoover said.
“We celebrated New Year’s I don’t know how many times,” Hoover said.
The NBAA award is just one of many given to Lacy in the past year.
In 2010, Lacy was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame, received the Pathfinder Award from the Seattle Museum of Flight, and the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration.