Donald S. Clark of Cambria, who learned to fly when he was 15 and later was inducted into the Niagara Frontier Aviation Hall of Fame, died Friday in Lockport Memorial Hospital after a brief illness. He was 78.
Mr. Clark, who was born in Buffalo, became fascinated with flying when he was a boy. He learned to fly in an old Piper Cub single-engine aircraft. Aviation became his passion.
He spent many years restoring old airplanes and raising money to establish the Niagara Falls Aviation Museum. He was a member and former president of the Experimental Aircraft Association.
From 1982 to 1985, he was executive director of the Niagara Falls Air Show to fund a museum.
In 1982, while staging the largest air show in Western New York until then, he said, "We ought to bring back -- document -- what happened here in aviation history. Consolidated, Curtiss-Wright, Bell Aerospace all started here and were real pioneers. The parachute was developed here. The Canadian aircraft industry was centered in Fort Erie. We had experimental aircraft tested right in Buffalo that later became standards for the industry."
Mr. Clark, a resident of Cambria for 38 years who owned and operated Interstate Pallet in Lockport for 35 years until his retirement, maintained his pilot's license and continued to fly well into his 70s.
In 1982, when he was 53, Mr. Clark suffered a broken nose and other facial injuries when his single-engine BT-14 crashed on takeoff. The 1939 North American trainer -- which he had worked four years to restore and was one of only five of its kind still flying then -- was demolished in the crash.
Survivors include his wife of 57 years, Norma Anderson Clark; a daughter, Deborah Faery; a son, Gary; a sister, Joan Wagner; and a brother, Roger.
Services will be private.