Clay’s Hangar

Legendary aviator, unique collection.


Aviation legend Clay Lacy has flown countless aircraft of every size and type, logging more than 50,000 flight hours and more air miles in jet aircraft than anyone in history. His private collection is as important as it is personal, with aircraft like his championship-winning P-51 Mustang, custom-restored Douglas DC-3 and a rare early Learjet.

  • Clay's P-51 Mustang, N64CL, SN 74423
  • Clay in the cockpit of N64CL
  • From 1964 to 1972, Clay competed in every pylon air race held in the nation. Here, Clay takes the lead in his iconic purple P-51 Mustang No. 64
  • Clay crosses the finish line at the checkered flag
  • Clay waves to cheering fans following an air race in 1972
  • An unhappy Clay sits in the cockpit of his P-51 Mustang No. 64 after experiencing mechanical problems during a qualification attempt at the 1971 Reno National Air Races
  • Clay and his 1970 Unlimited Class National Champion P-51 Mustang

1944 North American P-51 "Mustang" (N64CL)

These fast, agile Allied fighters helped win World War II, downing nearly 5,000 Axis planes, and flew United Nations pilots in the Korean War. Clay’s historic P-51, serial number 74423, was built in 1944 and flew in the Royal Canadian Air Force before he acquired the plane in 1964 to compete in the Reno Air Races.

Al Paulson, a good friend and business partner, had acquired an airline flying to Hawaii called Orchid Flight. The paint scheme included a purple stripe, but there was a mixup in the paint order. Instead of 50 gallons of paint, the purchasing agent ordered 1,500 gallons. As Clay recalled: “Al asked, ‘Have you thought about what color you want to paint it?’ I said, ‘No, I really haven’t.’ He said, “Good. We’ll paint it purple! People remember purple. They’ll call it the Purple People Eater. They’ll love it!’ And they did. When I repainted it later, twice, I painted it the same color.”

The highlight came in 1970 when Clay won the Unlimited Class National Championship, with a speed of 387.3420 mph. He would fly in every unlimited class air race in the country from 1964-1972, as well as air races in Lancaster, California, Boulder, Nevada, Cape May, New Jersey and St. Louis, Missouri. Still flying today, his P-51 made a special flight at the fiftieth anniversary of the Reno Air Races.

  • Learjet Model 23, SN 012, cost $400,000 in 1965
  • Lear Jet serial number 012 on the assembly line in Wichita, Kansas in 1964
  • Clay Lacy, Bill Lear and actor Danny Kaye sit in a mockup of a Lear Jet in 1964
  • An early promotional photo for the Lear Jet 23, capable of flying 550mph at 41,000 feet
  • Clay Lacy and Bill Lear sharing a laugh at a Lear Jet fly-in to celebrate Lear's 73rd birthday in 1975
  • Lear Jet 23, SN012, N1965L re-painted in original factory livery to celebrate Lear jets 50th anniversary in 2013
  • Final episode of Mad Men which aired in May 2015 featured Clay's Lear Jet 23 SN012
  • N1965L makes first transcontinental round-trip between dawn and dusk while setting 3 new world records
  • November 12, 2015 - Pilot Jeff Triphahn, Clay Lacy and Pilot Ed Hillis. A Lear Jet 75 sets world speed record Across the U.S. marking the 50th anniversary of Clay Lacy's 1965 record-setting transcontinental round-trip flight

1965 Learjet 23 (N1965L)

The Smithsonian Institution’s Air & Space Magazine named the Lear Jet 23 one of the ten aircraft that changed the world. Introduced in 1963, this was the first mass-produced private jet. Created by Bill Lear, and with the support of visionaries like Jack Conroy, Al Paulsen and Clay Lacy, the LearJet 23 revolutionized private air travel and made today’s business aviation industry possible. Only 104 examples were built and Clay owns one of them: N1965L, serial number 012, which entered service in November 1964.

Clay Lacy brought it to Van Nuys, making it the first private business jet to land at the airport. During 1965 the aircraft flew hundreds of demo flights, and many Hollywood stars made their first flight in a business jet aboard N1965L.

On May 21, 1965, Jack Conroy and Clay Lacy established three world speed records while flying the first transcontinental round-trip in a civilian jet between dawn and desk in the Lear Jet 23.

  • Clay's restored Douglas DC-3, SN 34370
  • N814CL with Clay in the left seat
  • For over 42 years Clay flew for United Airlines, beginning with the DC-3 and finishing on the Boeing 747
  • United Airlines Founder and CEO William Patterson and United flight attendant Mary O’Connor
  • The restored executive interior of the DC-3
  • DC-3 Cockpit

1945 Douglas DC-3, "Mainliner O'Connor" (N814CL)

President Eisenhower said the Douglas DC-3 was one of four main reasons the Allies won World War II. Launched in 1935, the DC-3 was the first profitable transcontinental commercial airliner. With the advent of war, the plane’s many virtues made it a perfect choice for the military, and thousands were built for service in every theater. Incredibly, as many as 2,000 DC-3s are still in service today.

Clay first flew a DC-3 when he joined United Airlines as its youngest copilot, at the age of 19. He purchased his own DC-3 in the late 1990s. Lovingly restored, the interior was modified from its standard airline configuration to an executive layout, and the exterior features the United Airlines livery. United Airlines Founder and CEO William Patterson named the plane “Mainliner O’Connor,” in honor of Mary O’Connor, one of United’s first flight attendants. It served as Jimmy Carter’s transport when he was governor of Georgia.

  • N344CL in action in Southern California
  • Clay demonstrates the unique capabilities of his Pilatus Porter, including a dead-stick landing, at the Van Nuys Airport Aviation Expo 2000
  • Clay's Pilatus Porter in service filming a sequence in the 1983 James Bond film 'Octopussy'
  • Versatile Pilatus PC-6 Porter shows off its STOL capabilities

1968 Pilatus PC-6 Porter (N344CL)

First built in 1959 and still in production, the Pilatus Porter performs the world’s shortest takeoffs and landings. The plane is able to take off in 300 feet and land in less than 100 feet at full gross weight. These versatile planes have seen service on everything from wartime intelligence missions to firefighting, skydiving, search and rescue flights—the list goes on. Purchased in 1969, Clay has flown his Pilatus Porter at numerous airshows across the country, transported building materials to his remote mountain retreat, even used it on a search and rescue mission. Clay loves to fly this plane and enjoys thrilling passengers and spectators with exciting maneuvers.

  • 1944 North American T-6, N164CL, SN 10216

1944 North American T-6 "Texan" (N164CL)

Introduced in World War II, and in service for decades, the North American T-6 Texan and its variants served as advanced trainers for  thousands of U.S. Air Force, Navy and British Commonwealth pilots. Over 12,000 were built between 1939 and 1945. Today, they’re star performers at airshows and races around the world. “If a pilot flew a T-6 well they could fly any fighter,” said Clay. He purchased his T-6 in 1959 and it can still be seen flying from its home at Van Nuys Airport in Los Angeles, California.

  • "LUCKY ME"

"LUCKY ME: The Life and Flights of Veteran Aviator Clay Lacy."

“My whole life has been luck,” Clay Lacy says. With a forward by Neil Armstrong, and dozens of exclusive photos, this highly readable book by Stacy T. Geere reveals the talent, inspiration, dedication and entrepreneurial spirit behind Clay’s success.

Gain insights into one of the major figures in U.S. aviation history, his groundbreaking achievements and unique contributions to the private jet industry. You will appreciate quotes from aviation luminaries, such as astronaut Gene Cernan, and anecdotes about entertainment figures like John Travolta, Johnny Carson and Frank Sinatra.

Download your complimentary copy of this legendary biography.