I am am air traffic controller at Oshkosh. I met Eddie at Oshkosh in 2015. I was admiring my favorite aircraft at the show, the Boomerang, and we got talking. He told me all about the plane and introduced me to Tres who he was incredibly proud of. I could tell right away he was as happy as I was to be at the show. After discussing the plane, he started talking about the Hawk program. He was so proud of the kids and the program. What struck me about Eddie was that in the middle of one of the best crowds of people in the world, he stood out as the most genuine and caring person there. All he wanted to do was help kids succeed. We walked and talked some more. He would stop to buy the kids food and drinks. He showed me the plane Hawk built and flew to the show. I wanted to contribute, so I did what little I could and got them a tour of the tower. It wasn’t much compared to what he does for them, but they all seemed to like it. Eddie and I kept in touch that year. The following year at Oshkosh I happened to be working at Fon du lac on one of the first days when I saw what looked like one of the Hawk planes come in and land. I left the tower to the other controllers and ran down to the parking area across the field. He was about as excited to see me as I was him. I gave him a big hug and we caught up on life. We took the kids up for another tour that year. I was set to attend Osh last year but had to back out for personal reasons. We still kept in touch and were planning to meet up again this year. I was so sad to hear the news when I stopped by the camp. The kids will always get to see the tower as long as I am there and it is because of Eddie. He has made me a better person and I’m sure everyone else as well who has spent more than a minute or two with him. I will always think of Eddie whenever I am at or talk about Oshkosh.
SBN/OSH Air Traffic Controller
Don and Debbie Waltman remembered Eddie flying at the America’s Freedom Festival Balloon Festival in Provo, UT.
Eddie has inspected my balloons for years. I will miss those meetings a lot.. This February the HAWK kids and mentors assisted in the gore-by-gore inspection. Eddie wanted them to have every experience possible. Their sharp eyes saw things we hadn’t seen before. Then it was time to make the repairs…
Eddie may have recorded the problems, but Shirley would resolve them with her 4-needle, 8-spool sewing machine. You should see her work a balloon. Then Eddie would check it and sweat the paperwork.They were quite the team.
After being introduced to hot air balloons almost three decades ago, I helped pilots for several years in Provo: Mike & Betty Bauwens, Dominic Chemello, the T-Rex from Calgary AB and Eddie and Shirley. Eddie and Shirley showed me how to crew for a three sided Firefly balloon.
One year I can remember Eddie had to leave early and go back to Grand Junction. He left Shirley to fly the balloon and I drove chase with the kids. I can remember Tres scaling a chain-link fence to retrieve Shirley flying Lady Justice. We jumped the balloon over the fence and deflated in a narrow street. All the time we were missing Eddie. But the family worked like clockwork. I was amazed.
After encouragement from Dominic and Eddie, I did the unthinkable…
I purchased Kit Strott’s balloon 4 July 1998.
Eddie encouraged me to drive to Rock Springs, WY the next weekend. We tethered the balloon and he made sure he or another pilot were with me the entire time. We tethered for more than an hour, and I enjoyed every minute. We also flew free in Rock Springs. After the main flight, we inflated in a strong wind and gently flew contour across the sagebrush. He was telling me the entire time about the joys of ballooning and how I should contact his friend, Erwin Oertli, for instruction. Erwin was my instructor, but Eddie gave me opportunities to fly also.
I flew with Eddie in Springville, after he had flown his passengers and scored on the target.
I have always known both Eddie and Shirley as mentors and I appreciate both as great friends.
We would appreciate receiving any memories you have of Eddie. Please email them to [email protected]
Beth Stanton, Gone West: Remembering Eddie Clements, EAA AirVenture, 27 July 2018, https://hawkaviators.org/gone-west-remembering-eddie-clements-from-eaa-airventure/