Oscar Cleal
Captain
Sept 2, 2003


We were deeply saddened to learn of Oscar Cleal's passing last week. What a wonderful caring man he was.  The tragic attempted hijacking that took away his sight never dampeded his spirit for a minute.  Always present at our Hughes Airwest picnics and Christmas Parties, Oscar always had a kind word for everyone.  We know his family will miss him. This obituary appeared in the Los Altos Town Crier

"After spending four years flying with the US Navy in WWII, Oscar found himself doing what he liked best, flying for Pacific Airlines, a small intrastate airline on the west coast. On July 31, 1961, Captain Cleal, his DC3 and passengers were on the ground at the Chico, CA airport when a gunman forced his way in, attempted a hijacking and demanded to be flown to Arkansas. Before the intruder was subdued, he had shot the station agent in the hip and shot Captain Cleal in the head, blinding him forever. He was 42 at the time.

In the hope that this could not happen again, Captain Cleal was one of the first to counsel congressional committees, law-enforcement agencies, and the Airline Pilots Assn. with urgent recommendations for bulletproofing cockpits, keeping cockpit doors locked and installing the doors with peepholes; teaching the pilots judo and furnishing them with handcuffs to restrain violent passengers - AND arming the pilots.

Before this first domestic skyjacking, Mr. Cleal had been working on the airline's retirement committee and as soon as he was able he studied economics, finance, and all facets of the securities business at Menlo College, as well as from books transcribed by the Recordings for the Blind and was able to pass the necessary examinations and went to work, as a registered stockbroker specializing in retirement and pension plans. This second career was successful and for almost forty years he was able to help many airline retirement committees.

Born in Buffalo, New York, Oscar has been a resident of Los Altos for the past 25 years.

Surviving Mr. Cleal are his wife, Ann; two children, son Lindsay and daughter Wendy from a previous marriage to Evelyn Brown. Also surviving are two grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

Private services were held."