Dedicated to Friends, Past and Present
Charles W. Clements Jr.
March 27, 2020
The following obituary was written by Charlie's good friend Captain Tom Sheehan, USA retired. It was edited and provided to us by our own Captain Hart Kelley, along with the photo of Chas and Perdita. Below the photo is a great link to a YouTube filmed and generously provided to us by another of our own, Captain Dave Dollarhide.
Our heartfelt thanks go to these gentlemen.
Everyone that met Chas knew he was special. He did it all. To say he cut a wide swath would be an understatement. May your final flight west be fair and free from turbulence, my friend.
Capt. Charles W. Clements, Jr., 70 of St. Augustine FL flew West on Friday, March 27, 2020. He was born in Miami Florida on June 14, 1949, Flag Day, and lived there most of his life. Charlie attended Coral Gables High School and excelled in all sports and was on the All-City football team in 1967. Charlie’s early years were spent on boats and seaplanes with his family in the Florida Keys. He attended Rutgers University on a football scholarship and later graduated from Florida State. Charlie learned to fly at an early age with his mentor father’s approval, who was an Eastern Airline Pilot. By the time Charlie got out of high school, he had earned a commercial pilots license as well as a flight instructor license. While at FSU he got a job at Seminole Flying Service instructing US Air Force and US Army ROTC cadets, as well as flying charters in the southeast. After graduating, Charlie was able to pass the coveted Airline Transport Pilot flight test, but it was not issued to him because he was not old enough. On his 23rd birthday it was issued to him. After that his career took off.
Charlie was the youngest pilot to be hired at Southern Airways in 1971. After a year flying the Martin 404, the lure of the Florida Keys, seaplanes, and boats brought him back to Miami with a new First Officer position on the B727 with
National Airlines. His career continued on with mergers and furloughs to include PanAm and Delta Airlines as well as Air Jamaica. During a lengthly furlough, he started his own freight only airline utilizing DC8s B727s, flying worldwide. During the Iran contra affair, Charlie flew a Red Cross 727 into Nicaragua with humanitarian supplies. His plane was the only one allowed in and not shot at. This is pre-satellite news days, so a CNN crew was desperate to get film out. Charley said $3000 cash in Miami for delivery. When they got to Miami CNN was there with a check. Charley said no deal and flew the film back to Nicaragua. The next day the news crew was there with another film can. They got the message. Miami CNN had cash every day after that. Later, he said “pilots don’t often get a chance to take advantage of the situation”. He split the CNN money equally with his crew after two weeks of lucrative flying!
One of his greatest joys was flying his 1941 PBY5A SuperCat WW2 bomber and DC3 to many airshows on the East Coast with an entourage of many friends. While test flying a bargain engine on his Super DC3, the engine failed resulting in a single engine landing. After stopping on the runway the copilot asked, “what now, Charlie?” Charlie said, “Lets get a beer!" That was vintage Charlie!
Charlie was a member of many aviation organizations, including the Quiet Birdmen, the Seaplane Pilots Association, and the Air Line Pilots Association. Charlie accumulated more licenses along the way with different flying opportunities. His pilot license reads like an Ernie Gann adventure novel. He was rated as Captain on Airbus A300, A310, Boeing B707, B720, B727, B737, B757, B767, B777, Douglas DC3S, DC8, DC10, Cessna CE525, Grumman G73 Widgeon, G111 Goose, Consoladated PBY5A Super Catalina seaplanes .
When Charlie wasn’t flying, he spent a lot of time on boats. As a youth he water skied,
fished and scuba dived in the Keys. He owned a few boats along the way, the last being a 52’ wooden Sports Fisherman, named “Poseidon” He took it out often and especially the Columbus Day Regatta in Biscayne Bay. On one occasion, he took Poseidon to Central America for a season of fishing. The weather was so bad on the trip he contacted a PanAm flight on a HF radio to get the best route to avoid the weather. Sadly, Hurricane Andrew sunk the Poseidon in her slip never to sail again.
Charlie met Perdita Dobinchick, the love of his life, while flying for PanAm. Perdita was a Flight Attendant. They were married in 2001 in Key West. Charlie was now 52 and this marriage thing was all new to him. Perdita was just the ticket with whom to share his wonderful life. They traveled the world together on the sea and in the air. They had a wonderful, exciting life together. They eventually moved to Palatka, Fl and then on to St. Augustine. Sadly, Perdita passed away December 30, 2019. Charlie was diagnosed with Alzheimers in 2011 and was well taken care of by Perdita until she unexpectedly passed. Perdita was totally devoted to Charlie.
He was predeceased by his wife, Perdita and his parents, Charles W. Clements, Sr. and Frances Bennett Clements. .
Charlie was a “a pilot’s pilot”, always selfless, always a friend, always there to help and encourage. His journey here has ended, but a new journey is just beginning. He and Perdita are together forever. He will be missed by many. Charlie’s final resting place will be in the Florida Keys in the Fall. There won’t be another “Charlie” to come this way again. We were blessed to have known him.
Dave's PBY fly by video.