Clay Lacy Aviation
Clay Lacy Aviation
Los Angeles
Key People
Brian Kirkdoffer, president and CEO
Number of Employees
Phone Number
(800) 423-2904

Clay Lacy Aviation

Founded more than 50 years ago at Los Angeles’s Van Nuys Airport, Clay Lacy Aviation provides jet charter as well as management, maintenance, and/or FBO services at more than 30 locations across the contiguous United States and Hawaii.   

Born in Wichita, Kansas, in 1932, Clay Lacy began flying at age 12, exchanging work for flight time at a nearby airfield and becoming a flight instructor at age 16. He joined United Airlines as a copilot and moved to L.A. in 1951, enlisting in the California Air National Guard to fly the F-86 Sabrejet fighter in 1954. 

While still flying for United (he retired in 1992 after 40 years with the airline), Lacy became sales manager for a Learjet distributor and reportedly landed the first business jet (a Learjet 23) in 1964. Four years later, he leased a Learjet and founded Clay Lacy Aviation as the first jet charter company west of the Mississippi, with many Hollywood stars as early clients.

Lacy didn’t only fly the movie stars; he flew for the movies. Affixing an Astrovision camera system to his Learjet in the mid-1970s and adding multiple camera mounts later, Lacy revolutionized air-to-air filming and provided aerial cinematography for such films as Top GunThe Right Stuff, and Fighter Pilot: Operation Red Flag

In 1981, Lacy opened the world’s first all-jet FBO at Van Nuys. The business expanded so rapidly that additional offices and hangars had to be built within three years. Adding aircraft management to its services increased the number and models of jets available for charter, and Clay Lacy Aviation became the first company in the U.S. to offer the Gulfstream GV and Boeing Business Jet for charter, in 1998 and 1999, respectively. By 2001, the company had increased its charter fleet to 30 jets.

In 2002, Clay Lacy opened a second FBO, at Boeing Field in Seattle. Learjet and Gulfstream pilot Brian Kirkdoffer became company president in the following year, and he added CEO to his title in 2013. Expansion projects have included a hangar in Seattle in 2009; a $10 million, six-acre redevelopment at Van Nuys in 2015; and aircraft charter and management offices in various U.S. locations in between. In 2016, the company acquired Key Air in Connecticut and opened FAA repair stations in Seattle, San Diego, and New York.  

In 2020, Clay Lacy began construction on a 15-acre FBO at John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California, with plans to open in 2021.