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Julie Clark’s Last Performance
January 24, 2019 - As EAA prepares to celebrate 50 years of AirVenture in Oshkosh, we also say goodbye to a beloved air show performer who is preparing for her farewell tour this year before retirement.
Julie Clark, EAA 136866, served as a captain for Northwest Airlines for many years until she retired in 2003 and focused on being an air show performer full-time. After 41 years of performing, Julie has made her mark in the aviation industry. We will surely miss her patriotic tribute as she taxis in to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh year after year.
Julie last performed at AirVenture in 2016. Prior to that, she had performed 37 years straight since ’79. Looking back on her time spent at EAA Oshkosh conventions she said what most people who come to visit say. “I love seeing all the people that I’ve met here,” she said.
“I just enjoy when they honor the veterans of World War II,” Julie said. “I’m a warbird owner and also a member of Warbirds of America and have been since ’79. And I’ve [had] my T-28 out there nine times. My T-34 has been there nearly 40 times. So I just enjoy the warbirds, the history, and just meeting people. When they honor certain groups of people — especially when World War II was being featured and when they brought in all the bombers, the B-17s, things like that — that’s what I personally really enjoy.”
Julie’s retirement from the air show circuit comes as a bittersweet moment for her, as it will be sad for her to say goodbye but she said she’s ready. “I just know that the time is right,” she said. The life of an air show performer is quite busy, even during the off-season. When she wasn’t putting on a show-stopping performance, she was giving speeches, attending events, and signing autographs.
“I’m definitely not going to quit flying,” Julie said of her post-retirement plans. “I’ve been flying now for 50 years, and I love flying. I’m going to probably be doing some flying for charity purposes, and I’m buying another airplane for that.”
Julie said she’s focused on one charity in particular: Pilots N Paws, which is a nonprofit organization that calls pilots to action through volunteering their time to transport animals in need, or by engaging in sheltering/adopting an animal.
Among Julie’s favorite moments over the years are flying formation with both the T-34s and T-28s, having the opportunity to fly with the Canadian Snowbirds in their full show (twice), and getting to fly with Bob Hoover.
“[Bob] asked me one day just out of the blue when he’s getting ready to go fly his Shrike show, and he said, ‘You want to join me?’ And I said, ‘Oh my God. Really?’ He said, ‘Absolutely. Come on. Jump in,’” Julie said. “This was just such an honor, and I never looked out the window hardly at all. All I did for that entire ... 20 minutes of flying was watch him so intently.”
Julie said she has a special surprise for her last performance at AirVenture; she is planning a special taxi in, which you will just have to wait and see for yourself.