The Pacific Northwest lost an icon last night, Joe Clark is the man most responsible for those elegant upswept wingtips now standard on new Boeing 737s. This now-ubiquitous winglet technology, installed to increase range and save fuel on business jets as well as commercial airplanes, is just the latest legacy of Mr. Clark’s long career in aviation.
He started his career as a jet sales person for Learjet. After starting his career in sales he went into becoming an aviation innovator and serial entrepreneur.
In the 1960s, Mr. Clark founded Jet Air, the first dealership in the Pacific Northwest for one of the first private business aircraft, the Learjet. In the 1980s, he co-founded regional airline Horizon Air, which later became part of Alaska Air Group. In the 1990s, he founded Aviation Partners to design and sell the performance-enhancing winglets.
And he flew his own private fleet of airplanes with passionate enthusiasm.
Born in Canada in the 1940s he moved to Seattle in the '40s right after he was born. He took his first flying lessons while a student at the University of Washington, and earned his private pilot’s license in 1961. In 1964, he traveled to the annual Reno Air Races, where he met Clay Lacy, a legendary pilot who took him up in a Learjet. Lacy embellished the ride with multiple aerobatic rolls, and the two became lifelong friends. Because of that flight Mr Joe began a career in aviation.
He took a job in sales with Learjet in Chicago and became one of the young guys along with McCaw who would be inspired by the technological innovation and entrepreneurial drive of Learjet founder Bill Lear.Seeing an opportunity to expand sales, Mr. Clark founded the Learjet dealership in Seattle. He later sold Jet Air to McCaw.
Following the deregulation of the U.S. airline industry in 1978, Mr. Clark and McCaw joined with Milt Kuolt to co-found Horizon. Last Saturday Joe was out flying his own aircraft when he slipped he fell backward and hit his head, causing bleeding on the brain. He never regained consciousness, said Judy Galfano his longtime personal assistant. He was 78. Thank you for your Airline, and invention to the Aviation industry.