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Aerospace museum exhibit near Sacramento highlights legendary cinematographer Clay Lacy

Legendary cinematographer highlighted in Sacramento-area aerospace museum exhibit
Legendary cinematographer highlighted in Sacramento-area aerospace museum exhibit 02:23

SACRAMENTO — Earlier this year, Hollywood production descended on Sacramento for a movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

We're now rolling the red carpet back out as a legendary filmmaker is in Sacramento to help open a new museum exhibit showing off his decades of work.

You may not know his name, but you've no doubt seen his stunning images. The dogfighting scenes in the original Top Gun film are just one of the Hollywood blockbusters that Clay Lacy has been a part of.

"It's been a great experience and a lot of fun," Lacy said.  

He helped revolutionize the film industry by using aircraft that fly faster and equipping them with a new kind of camera system. It's called Astrovision and uses periscope lenses mounted on the top and bottom of the fuselage.

"[The periscope] actually rotates 360 degrees and it can pivot up and down by 45 degrees," said Tom Jones, executive director of the Aerospace Museum of California.

Jones said the camera technology has been used in thousands of films.

"Anything that was air-to-air filming was done by this camera system throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s," he said.

Now, the cameras are on display inside a full-sized lear jet at the museum in a first-of-its-kind exhibit paying tribute to the pioneering aerial cinematographer.

"Clay could literally position the aircraft all around to keep that subject in the middle of the frame and capture the image," Jones said.

Lacy began flying at age 12 and had a long career as a military and commercial pilot, as well as flying some rat pack celebrities in his lear jet.

"Frank Sinatra would fly with Clay, and that inspired the song 'Come Fly With Me,' " Jones said.

Lacy hopes these stunning images leave a lasting legacy.

"I hope it inspires young people that want to fly," he said.

The Aerospace Museum of California is located at McClellan Park in North Highlands and is open Tuesday through Sunday until 5 p.m.

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