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Monday
Jun032019

Julie Clark's “Farewell Tour”

By Ed Downs

Yes, Julie Clark is on final approach, heading for the hangar one last time where there will be a lawn chair and cold beer, right? Isn’t that what a “Farewell Tour” is all about? For some, the gold watch and a condo in Boca works just fine, but if 2019 is a “Farewell” for Julie Clark, then readers need to rethink how a world class-airshow pilot defines “retirement.” 

Julie’s 2019 “Farewell Tour” will celebrate the completion of more than 40 years of safe airshow performing. She has flown 1,800 performances in all lower 48 states and Alaska, all the lower Provinces in Canada, Mexico, and even the Island of Bermuda. Julie’s stunning T-34 A, appearing as a gleaming “mini” version of Air Force Oneand sporting the name of her sponsor “Tempest Plus,” has thrilled millions of people with a performance that makes every appearance a celebration of American pride. 

Julie has amassed more than 34,000 hours of accident-free flying, with 11,000 hours in the same T-34A aircraft.One might expect a “Farewell Tour” to be a couple of token shows, an interview or two and then a quite departure from public view. Well, with three shows already flown in 2019, and well-earned awards presented, Julie’s schedule includes an additional 11 shows this year (so far) with numerous PR events and promotions appearances. Take a look at Julies web site, http://julieclarkairshows.com/air-show/, for additional details. 

A recent interview gave Julie a chance to make a special offer. Julie enthusiastically disclosed, “My Farewell Air Show scheduled for Oct. 19 at Rancho Marietta Airport (KRIU, Sacramento, CA) is an open invitation for my friends and fans to meet me personally and see a show especially designed for them, as a gift from me and my team.” Do not miss this opportunity to see Julie Clark in action. 

And what about after 2020 and future activities? Well … that is where Julie may need a little coaching on what “retirement” means. Based upon Julie’s book, Nothing Stood in Her way,Julie plans to reach out to those who need encouragement and support as they face some of the same challenges and tragedies that Julie overcame in her life, motivating them to find that “Inner Eagle” that has helped her reach the pinnacle of an aviation career that was earned the hard way. 

But another passion emerged during our interview, and that is Julie’s love for animals, especially man’s (persons?) best friend, dogs. Julie beamed when talking about her constant “pooch” companion, “Lindy” and then scowled at the hotels that do not welcome canine guests. Julie continued, “I just acquired an F-33 Bonanza, the one with the big cargo door, and will be outfitting if for carrying critters. I will finally be able to spend the time I want working with Pilots ‘N Paws (www.pilotsnpaws.org), a terrific organization that transports rescued dogs around the country. This is very exciting for me. I will be making more announcements about me and Pilots ‘N Paws soon.” 

But back to 2019, and the first three shows of the year.The NAS Key West, Southernmost Air Spectacular, was the first stop on Julie’s Farewell Tour. The venue was ideal and from the moment the Julie Clark Team arrived, everyone at the show had a “can do” attitude. All the operational requirements so important to an air show team were handled quickly and efficiently.Community support was outstanding; the crowds were appreciative, and the weather was great. The “hometown feel” of this event was an ideal way to kick off Julie’s final season, full of appreciation and warmth.

Julie’s final appearance at Sun ‘n Fun was the next stop. With her performances, numerous interviews, autograph signings, award ceremonies, support visits to organizations, like the 99’s, Silver Wings, AOPA, and Women in Aviation Int’l, Julie’s time was fully booked. She was presented the FAA’s Wright Bros., Master Pilot Award at a special ceremony. The award recognizes individuals who have exhibited professionalism, skill, and aviation expertise for at least 50 years while piloting aircraft as “Master Pilots.” On Saturday, April 6, Julie received Sun ‘n Fun’s Flight Path to Fame Award. This prestigious award is only given to “those who volunteer their efforts to generate interest and funds to create a flight path of success and build a brighter future for men and women in the aviation industry.” Julie then appeared on the Sun ‘n Fun’s “Pre-flight Show,” which was live-streamed to some 40 countries around the world. You can find Julie’s appearance and Saturday’s performance on www.liveairshowtv.com. To be sure, Sun ‘n Fun was not just a simple “hand wave” from the cockpit, but a true and well-deserved “blow-out!”

Continuing her grand Farewell Tour of the southeast, Julie then performed at the Beaufort Marine Corp Air Station Airshow. The event was well organized, drew a huge, enthusiastic crowd and while strong crosswinds presented challenges for the performers throughout the weekend, the event went beautifully. The Marines and everyone involved with the air show made the visit to South Carolina an enjoyable adventure.

It would be hard to find an aviation enthusiast that does not know the name of Julie Clark or fail to recognize Julie’s famed Beech T-34A Mentor.Julie’s faithful mount, Free Spirit will also continue to serve the aviation community, as a permanent display at Hiller Aviation Museum (www.hiller.org), located at the San Carlos Airport (KSQL, San Carlos, CA). This incredible airplane will speak to Julie Clark’s air show career (can you imagine, 11,000 hours at the hands of the same pilot!) and proudly represent a remarkable design that has been in continuous service for six decades. Be sure to check with the museum before paying Free Spirita visit, as rumor has it that Free Spiritmay remain “free” a bit longer than anticipated! 

Julie Clark officially began her air show company, then named Julie Clark’s American Aerobatics, in 1980. With 40 years of solo aerobatic air show flying and more than 34,000 accident-free hours in the air, Julie and her beautiful T-34 Mentor became an icon of airshow performances. This remarkable history of safety and excellence recently earned Julie the Sword of Excellence, the air show industry’s most prestigious award given by the International Council of Air Shows (ICAS). Julie’s air show routine takes Free Spirit to the limits of its operating capability. Julie’s T-34A demands exceptional skill to perform aerobatics and Julie’s experience has honed her co-ordination and responsiveness in a delicate balance. Her unique and patriotic presentation, “Serenade in Red, White and Blue,” is breathtakingly choreographed to Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” or “America the Beautiful.” To enhance her routine, multi-colored wing-tip smoke trails her every maneuver.

Julie Clark has received an astonishing number of awards for her performance skills, contributions to the airshow industry, community work and overall promotion of the aviation industry. To be sure, Julie’s impact on aviation, flying safety and promotion of aviation opportunities for the youth of American speak very well of this “pilot’s pilot.” Motivational speaking, active participation in aviation safety programs and, of course, her passion for animal rescue are all a part of Julie’s future. According to Julie, Free Spirit and I are not leaving the scene, just taking it to new heights.”

Editor’s Note:In Flight USAwishes Julie Clark all the very best as her air show performance chapter closes and new chapters open. Congratulations Julie, and thank you for all you have and continue to do for In Flight USAand the aviation community!

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