The Catalina Island Conservancy today announced that aviation legend Clay Lacy has donated $250,000 toward Catalina's Airport in the Sky, ACE Clearwater Airfield's runway repair project. Airport in the Sky (KAVX) closed to private aircraft Dec. 10, 2018 – May 3, 2019 for critical runway repairs completed in a unique partnership between the Conservancy and the Department of Defense, U.S. Marines and U.S. Navy.
Once the airport reopened, Lacy wasted no time in flying back into the airport with which he has a longstanding history. The entrepreneur, airline captain, military test pilot, air race champion, aviation record-setter and aerial cinematographer has accumulated more hours flying jets than anyone on earth.
He has logged 50,000 flight hours in more than 300 aircraft types. Many of those hours come from trips to Catalina Island. Lacy began his aviation career at age 19 and flew DC-3s to Catalina for United Airlines from 1952-1992.
“This year’s Conservancy Ball was the first time I’d ever taken a boat over to Catalina - it got me there, but I prefer being in the air,” said Lacy. “I’ve flown into KAVX on Catalina Island hundreds of times throughout my career. The runway repairs made such a difference in the landing experience at Airport in the Sky, and I am very proud to support this important project.”
The donation helped fund materials, transportation and other costs incurred by the Conservancy, a nonprofit, to replace the runway’s aging asphalt surface. Because of the condition of the runway, the airport the Conservancy owns and operates was at risk of being closed to the public, threatening deliveries by air of freight as well as flights by first responders and recreational pilots.
“We are grateful to Clay Lacy for this incredibly generous gift,” said Conservancy President and CEO Tony Budrovich. “Clay’s longtime involvement with Catalina and Airport in the Sky is deeply appreciated.”
Clay Lacy will be recognized alongside other lead donors on the Catalina Island Conservancy’s donor recognition sign at the main entrance to Airport in the Sky.