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Clayton "Scotty" Scott (1905-2006)


Clayton Scott at his 101st birthday in July with (l to r) Dr. Bonnie Dunbar, president of the Museum of Flight in Seattle; Bill Jepson, co-sculptor; and Kathy Keolker, mayor, city of Renton.
Photo by Kevin Pettelle

October 4, 2006 — Aviation lost one of its true icons last week when on September 28 Clayton L. "Scotty" Scott, EAA 24643, passed away at the age of 101. The Mercer Island, Washington, resident flew more than 8,000 hours over the span of 80 years in airplanes too numerous to list. He learned to fly by persuading airmail pilots to give him some dual instruction in 1926. He soloed in a Waco 9, three months before Lindbergh's famous trans-Atlantic flight to Paris in May 1927, and soon was a Pacific Air pilot.

Early Flying Days

By 1928, Scotty had his own plane and was giving rides at Seattle Flying Services airfield. One day he was forced to make an emergency landing at an uncompleted airfield being built by the county a few miles away. That became the first landing and takeoff from what today is Boeing Field.

In 1929, Scott made the first commercial flight across the Gulf of Alaska, from Juneau to Cordova, in a Keystone Loening Air Yacht. Later he flew a Loening Commuter amphibian from New York to Seattle in 19 hours, 35 minutes flying time.

While flying a Commuter from Seattle to Alaska in 1932, Scotty met Bill Boeing during a fuel stop on Carter Bay, British Columbia. Coincidentally, Boeing was there fueling his yacht, Taconite, and Scott offered him a sightseeing flight.

That chance meeting changed Scotty's life; Boeing hired him to fly for his United Air Transport, the company subsidiary that would became United Air Lines. During 1933-34, Scott flew Boeing 247s between Portland and Salt Lake.

Later Scott became Boeing's personal pilot, covering all of Alaska on fishing and hunting trips in a Boeing B-1E 204 flying boat as well as a Douglas Dolphin amphibian and a Douglas DC-5.

Boeing's Chief Test Pilot

In 1941, Scotty began a 25-year stretch as a production test pilot for Boeing, including 14 as chief test pilot. He flew many different types including the DB-7, A-20, B-29, B-50, B-47, B-52, C-97, 707, 727, and of course, the B-17. Scotty held the distinction of having flown more Flying Fortresses-more than 1,000 of them-than anyone else.

He retired from Boeing in 1966 and went full time into his aircraft modification business, Jobmaster, which engineered float installations for planes not previously certificated for water operations. Some of the airplanes he modified included the Dornier, Pilatus-Porter, Howard (at one time, he owned the type certificate for the Howard 15 series), Lasa, Piper Aztec, Northwest Ranger, Bellanca, and Cessna 195.

Scotty kept an office at his Jobmaster hangar on Clayton Scott Field. On his last birthday (July 15, 2006), he was forever immortalized with a life-sized bronze sculpture dedicated by friends and colleagues at the Renton, Washington, airport renamed Clayton L. Scott Field on his 100th birthday a year earlier.

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