Pilot Clarence Andrews remembered as 'man of action'

Pilot Clarence Andrews remembered as 'man of action'

December 6th, 2012 by Yolanda Putman in Local Regional News

Clarence Andrews stands with the single-engine plane that he constructed. Andrews, 82, took off in the plane Sunday from Collegedale Airport. He was found dead Tuesday still strapped in the crashed plane in a wooded area off the north end of the airport's runway.

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Clarence Andrews was a man of action.

His son, Dr. James Mckay Andrews, recalled his first-grade classmates watching admiringly as he rode to school on the back of his father's motorcycle. He remembered how his dad spent winters in Colorado, snow skiing seven days a week. How he attempted water skiing at age 81.

And true to his nature, Clarence Andrews died at age 82 in an airplane he had built himself.

"My dad was never one to sit on the sidelines and watch TV," said James Andrews.

Clarence Andrews, a widowed father of three and retired TVA engineer and researcher, served in the United States Air Force from 1951 to 1955 and made sergeant.

He never met a stranger, and he communicated with a second-grader just as well as he did with doctor, his son said.

His daughter, Martha Andrews, added, "My father was a very interesting man. He has been in the community a long time."

The elder Andrews, who lived on Signal Mountain, took off in his homebuilt Cassutt airplane on Sunday afternoon from the Collegedale Airport.

Airport officials called Andrews' family when they realized he had been gone for hours and left Abby and his cellphone in his car.

His body was found near the Collegedale Airport on Tuesday, still strapped into the pilot's seat in the upside-down aircraft. The National Transportation Safety Board report on the cause of the crash could take up to one year, investigator Allison Diaz said.

The Tri-Community Volunteer Fire Department removed Andrews' body from the accident site and then allowed the Special Tactics and Rescue Services [STARS] to carry Andrews out of respect, said Clay Ingle, STARS member.

Andrews and his search dog Abby, a chocolate Labrador retriever, had been members of STARS since July 2000.

"We're a family, not just a rescue team," said Ingle. "Clarence was an integral part."

Funeral services are set for 2 p.m. Sunday at Wayside Presbyterian Church. There will be no visitation at the funeral home.

James Andrews is taking care of Abby.