Julie Clark’s Smokin’ T-34 Mentor
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2012 – ICAS Foundation Hall of Fame!
The 2012 air show season marks the 32nd anniversary of air show excellence for Julie Clark and American Aerobatics. The 2011 season wrapped up quite nicely with Julie receiving word of her induction into the International Council of Air Shows (ICAS) Foundation Air Show Hall of Fame. Described as an “air show legend” by ICAS, Julie joins the ranks of previous Hall of Fame inductees such as; Jimmy Franklin, Danny Clisham, Bob Hoover, Art Scholl, Betty Skelton Frankman, and Charlie Hillard.
In addition to Julie Clark, the 2011 ICAS Foundation Air Show Hall of Fame honors Jim and Ernie Moser; and Steve Oliver and Suzanne Asbury-Oliver. Julie is truly grateful and delighted to join such a prestigious collection of air show legends.
Julie Clark officially began her air show company then named, Julie Clark’s American Aerobatics, in 1980. Julie and the entire SMOKIN’ T-34 MENTOR aerobatic team look forward to an exciting air show season and the opportunity to meet new fans across North America. With 32 years of solo aerobatic air show flying and 31,000 accident-free hours in the air, Julie and the SMOKIN’ T-34 MENTOR are ready for a great 2012 season.
With her sparkling personality and the graceful aerobatics that have endeared her to her legions of faithful fans, Julie Clark’s air show routine takes the SMOKIN’ MENTOR, her restored T-34, “Free Spirit,” to the limits of its operating capability. Julie’s SMOKIN’ T-34 MENTOR demands exceptional skill to perform aerobatics and Julie’s experience has honed her co-ordination and responsiveness in delicate balance. Julie’s aerobatic routine is remarkable in its beauty and splendor and even more remarkable in that she exhibits elegance in an airplane with flying manners best be described as rugged.
Her unique and patriotic presentation, “Serenade in Red, White and Blue,” is breathtakingly choreographed to Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” or “God Bless You Canada.” 2012 marks Julie’s 28th year of flying to Lee Greenwood’s song. 28 years ago, patriotism was not what it has evolved into today. Consequently, Julie’s desire to continue performing to this remarkable song has made her a personal friend of Lee Greenwood. To enhance her routine, multi-colored wing-tip smoke trails her every maneuver and she concludes her performance with crowd-pleasing pyrotechnics, dazzling fireworks.
A pilot for more than 42 years and a retired Northwest Airlines Captain, Julie Clark has logged more than 31,000 accident-free hours in the air and is rated in more than 66 types of aircraft. Marking her 33rd year as a solo aerobatic air show pilot, Julie has earned the admiration of fans everywhere and garnered many awards and honors. In 2007 Julie was named, “Woman of the Year” by Senate District 1, by the California Senate. Julie was honored for her contributions to her local community and the community of aviation.
In March of 2002, Julie received perhaps her highest honor with induction into the Women in Aviation Pioneer Hall of Fame of Women in Aviation, International. The Hall of Fame recognizes the significant contributions women have made to the aviation industry as record setters, pioneers or innovators. “Being inducted into this outstanding Hall of Fame is a great thrill for me,” said Clark. “Being honored at this level for doing something that I truly love makes this induction even more special.”
Honored annually since 2006 by Airport Journals and the Kiddie Hawk Air Academy, as one of the Top 40 “Living Legends in Aviation”, with the likes of Bob Hoover, Gene Cernan, Chuck Yeager, Morgan Freeman
and Harrison Ford, Julie will again be honored for her achievements for 2011. In 2006, Julie was the only woman named in the Top 10 of Favorites.
2007 and 2008 brought about honors from the National Aeronautic Association (NAA). In 2007 Julie was honored with the Paul Tissandier Diploma, presented by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) and NAA for service to the cause of aviation in general and sporting aviation in particular, for her work, initiative, devotion, or in other ways.
Surprised and delighted, Julie was honored in 2008 by the NAA as the recipient of the Katharine and Marjorie Stinson Award. The Stinson Award recognizes a living woman for an outstanding and enduring contribution, a meritorious flight, or a singular technical development in the field of aviation, aeronautics, space or related sciences.
Julie’s other equally thrilling awards include receiving the prestigious Art Scholl Memorial Showmanship award during the 30th Annual International Council of Airshows Convention, a coveted award presented each year to the air show performer who best exemplifies Art Scholl’s commitment to air shows as an entertainment venue. Clark said, “I feel extremely honored as, in my opinion, this award goes to the very best performers in the industry. The Scholl Award is the ultimate award for an air show performer and I’m very fortunate to be named in this elite group.”
Julie is very proud that her fellow air show pilots selected her as recipient of the 1991 “Bill Barber Award for Showmanship.” World Airshow News presented the award at EAA AirVenture and said, “Through a combination of pilot skill, imagination, personality, attitude and a style all her own, Julie Clark displays the qualities of a true showman and projects a positive image of the professional air show performer.” Julie has also been inducted into the International Women’s Air & Space Museum and in 1993, for her exceptional contribution to aviation; Julie was inducted into the “Forest of Friendship” at Amelia Earhart’s residence in Atchison, Kansas.
In 1988 and 1997, General Aviation News named her “Performer of the Year” as well as “Favorite Female Performer” for 1988, 1990, 1992 and 1997. Julie, whose dedication to aviation has led many to label her as a legend in her own time, has been recognized by the FAA, in Washington, D.C., with the meritorious Certificate of Appreciation for the following areas: Outstanding Contribution to Professional Women in Aviation, Contribution to the Preservation of Military Aircraft and Contribution to Women Pioneers in Aviation. The Certificate of Appreciation had only been presented six times when it was presented to Julie.
While Julie personally ferries her SMOKIN’ T-34 MENTOR to each air show, her ground crew travels an average of 30,000 miles per year. The SMOKIN’ T-34 MENTOR Team’s ground support “Road Show” includes a custom 35-foot, triple axle, 5th wheel Featherlite trailer. Pulling power needed for the unit is supplied by a 2005, 5.9L HO Cummins Turbo Diesel powered, Dodge Ram 3500 SLT Quad Cab 4X4 pickup with 6-speed HD manual transmission. The 5th wheel trailer carries all necessary support materials and serves as day quarters during air shows. The complete unit is displayed on the air show flight line, providing a focal point to meet the public, sign autographs, display SMOKIN’ T-34 MENTOR materials.
Restoration fans will appreciate that Julie bought her Beechcraft T-34 in 1977, “sight unseen” at a government surplus auction, in Anchorage, Alaska, for $18,000. She flew the airplane, dubbed Free Spirit, 2,900 miles to her home in California. Julie personally and painstakingly restored her aluminum airplane, hand polishing inside and out. “Over the next four years, I spent many long hours bringing the airplane back to mint condition” said Clark, “and it requires daily maintenance to keep it that way.” Beginning with her creative version of the “Air Force One” paint scheme, the aircraft constantly requires upgrading and modification. The SMOKIN’ T-34 MENTOR is powered by an Eagle Engine’s, Stratos Plus Series Engine, producing approximately 300 hp, coupled to a Hartzell™
three-bladed Designer*Prop™ by American Propeller. Eagle Engine and American Propeller are of Redding, California.
The T-34 Mentor was special to Julie as she had logged many hours as a civilian T-34 instructor for the U.S. Navy at Lemoore Naval Air Station in 1974-75. She was Navy trained in tactical maneuvers, formation flying and aerobatics. Although T-34 aircraft saw countless hours in the 1950s as trainers for U.S. Air Force and for Navy, the airplane demands tremendous skill to fly aerobatics. Julie explained, “The T-34 requires concentration and anticipation during aerial maneuvers as the aircraft does not have an inverted oil or fuel system and inverted flight must be carefully calculated. Also, due to its larger size than most air show aerobatic aircraft today and its low power-to-weight ratio, the airplane’s flight controls become very heavy during the aerobatic routine.”
There was never a doubt that Julie Clark was born to fly. “While most 8-year-old girls were playing with dolls,” explained Julie, “I was building models of airplanes and reading all I could about flying.” Adding fuel to the fire that committed Julie to aviation was her father, Ernie Clark, a commercial airline pilot for Pacific Airlines. “My dad got me interested in flying,” recalled Julie, with a smile. “I got really excited when he would take me along on airline flights in the DC-3 or F-27. Dad would put me into the baggage compartment and then, from inside the airplane, he opened the baggage bin and snuck me into the cockpit. I had to beg and plead, but I thought that was the greatest thing, when I could go fly with my dad”.
Ironically, it was her father’s fate that had a more profound effect on Clark. Her father, Captain Ernie Clark flew in the ’60s when cockpits were left unlocked in flight. In 1964, while Captain Clark was filling in for a pilot who had called in sick and was en route from Reno to San Francisco, with a stopover in Stockton; a passenger entered the unlocked cockpit with a gun and killed Captain Clark. After a major struggle between the gunman and the First Officer, the airplane went down, killing all on board. “That Pacific Airlines, flight 773, on May 7, 1964,” Julie explained, “brought about the law requiring cockpit doors to remain locked during commercial flights and is named for Captain Ernie Clark.”
It was a difficult time for Julie; but, her goal never changed. In fact, she became even more determined. In 1967, Julie spent her college book money on flying lessons. After college, years of working two and three jobs and taking virtually any flying job to build time and higher ratings, Julie’s major break came in 1976 when Golden West Airlines, a West Coast commuter airline, hired her to fly DeHavilland Twin Otters. The first, and only, woman ever to fly for Golden West, Julie flew mail at night and passengers ’til noon, in her continuing effort to build time. In 1977, when Hughes Airwest (formerly Pacific Airlines) hired Julie, she became one of the first women to fly for a major airline and it started what has become a storybook career. Hughes Airwest became Republic Airlines and is now Northwest Airlines. Julie became a Captain for Northwest Airlines in 1984. After a long and enjoyable career with the airlines, Julie retired from Northwest Airlines in 2004.
Seen most recently on “Eye on the Bay”, CBS5/KPIX TV, Julie has been featured on many, nationally-televised TV documentaries and aviation related TV specials. Julie’s list of credits includes co-hosting the “P.M. Magazine’s Sky Dancers” special and appearances in the PBS specials, “Reaching for the Skies” and “The Adventurers”. She was also featured on “The Dayton International Air Show” TV special, where she gave Robin Leach, from “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” his introduction to aerobatics. Julie’s expertise and love for aerobatics drew the attention of “ABC’s Wide World of Flying,” where she gave helpful hints on cockpit organization for pilots. She has also been featured on the “Mack & Mutley” show, the game show “To Tell the Truth” and the “Joan Rivers Show.”
Julie is one of the few air show greats to be featured in a biography; her amazing story is told in NOTHING STOOD IN HER WAY, Julie Clark, which was the first such biography published by Women in Aviation, International and tells of the amazing strengths and perseverance of this remarkable air show star. From one coast to another, from Canada to Bermuda, Julie’s elegant performance stirs the hearts and minds of young and old alike. Painting smoke-trailing loops, rolls and hammerheads in patriotic red, white and blue, her aerial ballet thrills those fortunate enough to be enjoying the performance from the ground.
Julie would also like to thank the following product endorsement companies; some which have been supporting her for more than 25 years.
- Air Chart Systems
- Airguide Publications, Inc.
- Ameritech Industries – American Propeller Service and Eagle Engines
- Bendix/King Avionics by Honeywell
- Bose Aviation Headsets
- Bose Corporation
- Champion Aviation Products
- Concorde Battery Corporation
- Digidata by Shadin Avionics
- Goodyear Aviation Tires
- Hooker Custom Harness, Inc.
- ICOM America, Inc.
- Insight Instrument Corporation
- Nuvite Chemical Compounds Corporation
- Oregon Aero
- Pulselite by Precise Flight
- Sandel Avionics
- Softies by Para-Phernalia, Inc.
- Stormscope by L3 Communications
- Titan Aircraft Engine Products ECi
- VedalhoHD Sunglasses
- Whelen Engineering Company, Inc.