Clay Lacy was 12 years old when he began flying at a small airstrip in Wichita called the Orville Sanders Cannonball Airport at Maple and Tyler.
That early passion launched a distinctive career as an aerial cinematographer, United Airlines pilot, experimental pilot, fighter pilot, entrepreneur and holder of 29 speed records.
Lacy will be inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in Dayton, Ohio, on Saturday.
Also honored will be Alan Bean, lunar module pilot for Apollo 12; Warren Grimes, inventor of aircraft navigation instruments and lights; and Noel Wien, Arctic flight pioneer who founded Wien Alaska Airlines.
"Where do you start with Clay Lacy?" asked National Aviation Hall of Fame enshrinement director Ron Kaplan. "As you can imagine, anyone who started flying when they were 12 probably has a long and colorful history of aviation achievements. And Clay certainly has those."
Most of the inductees into the Hall of Fame are known for maybe one major accomplishment, Kaplan said.
"But Clay Lacy can claim major accomplishments in numerous areas."
Lacy, 77, grew up in Wichita, and left to join United Airlines as a co-pilot on a DC-3 aircraft. He flew for United for nearly 41 years.
He's flown more than 200 different aircraft, holds 32 type ratings and logged more than 55,000 flight hours.
Lacy was manager of Learjet sales for the western states before starting a charter and fixed base operation service in Van Nuys, Calif., in 1968.
He may be best known for his work in aerial film footage.
Paul Bowen, who worked with Lacy on a number of projects, said Lacy is a top aerial cinematographer.
"You can find pilots who can fly photo missions technically beautifully," Bowen said. "But he flies them artistically beautifully."
He helped develop a camera system called Astrovision for the filming that he uses on specially modified Learjet aircraft.
Over the years, he's filmed more than 2,800 air-to-air photography projects for military, general aviation, airlines, television and feature films, including "Top Gun", "The Right Stuff" and "Armageddon."
He faked a gear-up landing of a Learjet for the movie "Capricorn One," and landed a DC-3 gear-up — no faking — for the movie, "The Island."