Julie Clark Retires from Airshow Circuit

Pioneering female pilot finishes a stunning air show career.

Julie Clark in her T-34 Mentor
Julie Clark performed her final air show in her T-34 Mentor at her home field in Ranch Murieta, California.Tom Bailey via YouTube

After 41 years of flying her solo air show, wowing crowds with her gracious aerobatic dance, female pilot pioneer Julie Clark flew her last airshow last month. Instead of going out in front of a massive audience at one of the major air shows she has performed at many times, she decided to make her final show in front of her friends and family at her home field. Clark flew her Beechcraft T-34A Mentor at the Julie Clark Homecoming Air Show in Rancho Murieta, California—the conclusion of Julie’s 2019 Farewell Tour—on October 19, her unmistakable platinum blond hair blowing in the wind as she taxied out.

According to Clark’s website, Clark worked as a civilian T-34 instructor at the Naval Air Station in Lemoore, California, in 1974 and 1975. She bought her beloved Mentor in 1977 at a government surplus auction in Anchorage, Alaska, and she personally worked on the restoration of the polished aluminum and blue airplane, which is now partially painted in an Air Force One-inspired scheme. Clark’s T-34 is powered by a 300-horsepower Eagle Engines’ Stratos Plus series engine.

“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,” Clark said. “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.”

Julie became the first and only female pilot to fly for Golden West Airlines in 1976, flying the De Havilland Twin Otter. She moved on to Hughes Airwest, becoming one of the first women to fly for a major commercial airline. Hughes Airwest later became Republic Airlines and subsequently Northwest Airlines. Clark served as a Northwest captain for 20 years before retiring in 2004. Northwest was absorbed by Delta Air Lines in 2006.

Clark has logged more than 33,000 hours of flight time in more than 66 types of aircraft. She was inducted into the Women in Aviation International Aviation Hall of Fame in 2002 among numerous other awards and honors.

The attached amateur Youtube video shows Julie’s last performance. The main coverage begins around five minutes into the video. Julie Clark will attend the Nellis Air Show outside Las Vegas, on November 16. While Clark’s air show career has come to an end, she is not ready to hang up her pilot’s hat yet. No announcement has been made about what she is planning to do. Stay tuned!