Clayton Scott 1905-2006
 Longtime aviator
 Bill Boeing's personal pilot

For those of you unaware, Scotty died on Thursday (Sept. 28, 2006.)  Dick Taylor called to give me the news and I found the below obit in the P.I.  Dick said there was also a piece in the Wall St. Journal.  Dick was a great friend and supporter of Scotty, and staged his last 3 birthday parties - for his 99th, 100th, and 101st birthday.

 I think everyone who knew Scotty, and was around him, even the "old-timers", even the "Real Old-Timers",  were aware that they were around a piece of living history.  He saw it all.  And then some.  Aviation history, and Boeing history, almost from the beginning.   Scotty soloed  Feb. 25, 1927, in a Waco 9, after a grand total of 3 hours and 40 minutes dual instruction!  He had License # 2155.   He had the lowest active pilot's license number, and, I believe, was the oldest active pilot.

Clayton Scott

He remained incredibly vibrant almost until the end.  Anyone who could say they had flown for 79 years and still owned a couple of airplanes certainly had "The Right Stuff."

Scotty gave me flight instruction in his Howard floatplane on Lake Washington.  It was for my  seaplane rating.  That was, gulp,  40 years ago!  Scotty ----- had already retired !!!!!

In 2003, when the Boeing 737 Prototype (NASA 515) made it's last flight from Moses Lake to Boeing Field, Scotty came over with Dick to watch its last takeoff.

Bob, Dick, Scotty, Brien Wygle, Dale Ranz and sons

Later, in 2004, when the Museum had a dinner to honor those who had worked on making that flight a reality, Scotty honored me,  personally,  by attending.

Scotty, Bob, Dot, Dick Taylor

It's hard to feel sad about the passing of someone who has reached 101 years old, but with Scotty, one has a deep feeling that this is indeed a very mournful ending to an era in history.  Aviation is still young enough to have had a man,  from its beginnings, like Scotty, still in our midst.  We won't be able to say that again, or see a man with his credentials, have him shake our hand and tell us his stories.   What a joy!.......and What a Loss.

Dick Taylor recognized all of the above and was a wonderful caretaker of Scotty's legacy.  He created a small book with Scotty's history for one of his last birthdays, and a wonderful DVD for another.  They are amongst my most treasured keepsakes.  I shall re-read and replay them tonight.  Scotty's stories are nothing short of incredible.  Dick was instrumental in also getting Renton Municipal Airport, site of so many aviation Milestones, from Will Rogers and Wiley Post's last departure, to the first flights of so many truly great Boeing airplanes, renamed as Clayton Scott Field.


Dick Taylor, Organizer and M.C. of Scotty's Birthday Parties -
this one his 101st, July 15, 2006 at Renton Airport, er... 

Clayton Scott Field!









Scotty with Bill Boeing, Jr.  at his 101st.   Scotty's airplane in the background (the one he crashed in the Cascades.)

Those of you who knew Scotty,  know what I say is true.  He had a "presence."  He was quiet and self-assured.  He had "been there - done that."  All of it.  And then some.  He was a true Gentleman.

Scotty, I'm proud, to have known you.

Hi Ho!

Bob Bogash




  Click here to see photos of Scotty's History and and parts of his Remembrance Book


   Click here to see Scotty's Obituaries and Memorial Service


If it had wings, he most likely flew it

Pilot Clayton Scott turns 100

Saturday, July 16, 2005


Just two years after Wilbur and Orville Wright sailed over a North Carolina sand dune to launch the aviation age, Clayton Leigh Scott made his earthly debut in Potter County, Pa.

The timing was perfect.

Scott went on to make an indelible impression in the history of flight as an early carrier of U.S. mail, as William E. Boeing's personal pilot and as a test pilot for Boeing's growing airplane company.

One hundred years later, he's still at it. Sort of.

Scott has not flown solo in a couple of years. He parked his Buick for good only last December. But he still keeps an office at Renton Municipal Airport where, for nearly half a century even before his "retirement," he ran Jobmaster from a small Renton hangar. His specialty: the conversion of land planes into float planes by pinning pontoons to their undersides.

The friends and colleagues he has collected over his century gathered at Seattle's Museum of Flight yesterday to toast their old pal, and to wish him happy birthday.

It was only the beginning.

In the afternoon, Renton city officials gave Scott reason to add another notch to the strip of chevrons that decorate the joystick that has been his life for so long.

By unanimous acclamation, they tacked "Clayton L. Scott Field" to the placard that identifies the airstrip as Renton Municipal Airport.

Still "Scotty" after all these years, the old aviator arrived for the festivities at Boeing Field in a sleek, twin-engine Aerostar after taking the controls during the flight from Renton.

He emerged wearing a grey houndstooth sport coat with shirt and tie to match, and he seemed to get a kick out of the fuss stirred up among the reporters and photographers.

One TV guy, speaking as if Scott were stone deaf, wanted to know if Scott "loved" or simply "liked" flying.

Scott looked at him blankly, and then grinned at his friend and escort, Priscilla Taylor Hickey.

"Flying isn't something you can love," he said, and left the rest unspoken.

Hickey, the daughter of retired Boeing executive Richard "Dick" Taylor, simply grinned back and squeezed Scott's arm.

Since the death of his wife, Myrtle, in October 1998, Scott has continued to live in the apartment they shared at Island House on Mercer Island, driving up I-90 and down I-405 to work in Renton every day, and sometimes twice on Sunday.

He still has a couple of float-converted Cessna's for sale.

"For a while there, we were following him home every night just to make sure he got there safely," said Mike Rice, manager of Renton-based Aerodyne, where Scott shares office space.

A friend, Bill Jepson, now plays chauffeur, and is leading the effort to compile Scott's life story, one log book at a time.

"One good thing about pilots," Jepson said. "They have to write things down."

They met in 2001.

"I was admiring his airplanes one day and followed him into his hangar," said Jepson, a pilot, artist and entrepreneur.

"He's been entrusting me with his stories ever since," Jepson said. "It's been a pleasure to know him. Now it's my duty to help him with his story."

No surprise that, by the time a professional pilot has lapped a century, there would be stories to tell.

After moving with his family from Pennsylvania to Portland in 1911 and graduating from Jefferson High School, Scott got a bank job, where he met transportation pioneer Vern Gorst. Gorst had an airplane and ran a fleet of buses out of Coos Bay, Ore.

According to Scott's Mercer Island neighbor, Emery Eckert, Scott became a station attendant for Gorst's Pacific Air Transport at Pearson Field in Vancouver, Wash., and helped deliver the mail to Medford, Ore. But not by airplane. He was not yet a pilot.

So it went like this: When the weather would sock in, Scott would load the mail into the company's Model T and point it toward Highway 99. When the weather cleared, the mail plane would follow.

The pilot would look for a truck with a "T" on top, then search for a field in which to land, retrieve the mail from Scott and carry on.

Vern Gorst's pilots eventually taught Scott to fly. He never looked back.

A Scott story told and retold through the years is the one Jepson recalls about Scott's single engine conking out while he flew above the clouds and the summits of the Cascade Range.

"Somehow, he found a way through a hole in the clouds to an opening in some trees, but nevertheless piled up and was knocked out," Jepson said. "He woke up with gas dripping on the back of his neck."

Jepson said Scott was bleeding from face cuts and abrasions, but stayed with his aircraft until morning, then walked out and flagged down a startled logger who took him to North Bend, where he got a truck to haul out his airplane.


 July 15, 1905: Clayton L. Scott was born in Coudersport, Pa., one of seven children, mostly girls

  • 1920s: On a family visit to Pennsylvania, Scott sees a barnstorming flier land in his uncle's field. Later in Oregon he takes a ride with another. He's hooked for life.

    1928: Giving $10 rides to a couple of thrill-seekers, Scott encounters strong gusts at the Seattle Flying Service airfield just south of what is now the West Seattle Bridge, and chooses to land instead at an uncompleted airfield being built by King County a few miles away. So as not to get in trouble, he arrives early the next day and flies out. Scott thus became the first pilot to land at what is known today as Boeing Field.

    1929: Scott is the first commercial pilot to cross the Gulf of Alaska.

     Early 1930s: Gassing up his Keystone-Loening Commuter at a marina in Alert Bay, B.C., Scott encounters Boeing founder William E. Boeing refueling his yacht, Taconite. They become friends, and the chance encounter develops into a job as Boeing's personal pilot.

    1933-34: Becomes a United Airlines captain.

    1940-1966: As chief production test pilot for Boeing, Scott took airplanes fresh off the production line. The airplanes he flew included the 247, 377, 707 and 727 airliners, as well as the military B-17, B-29, B-47, B-50, B-52, C-97 and KC-135. Scott is believed to have flown more World War II-vintage B-17 bombers than anyone in history.

  • In retirement: Scott built and flew a replica B&W, the float plane considered Boeing's first aircraft. The replica hangs today in the Museum of Flight.

  • July 15, 2005: Scott celebrates his 100th birthday at the Museum of Flight under the B&W.

  •  Look for a photo of Scott's crossing of the Gulf of Alaska in an online history of Prince William Sound at   


    P-I reporter Gordy Holt can be reached at 425-646-7900 or

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  • Copyright 2006 Robert A. Bogash.  All Rights Reserved

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