For that, at least, his agent is grateful. A licensed pilot since 1956, Clark has been an aviation nut since his Virginia boyhood. His first plane was a homemade glider of oak planks and bedsheets that his father grounded before its maiden flight. As compensation, perhaps, the 44-year-old star now owns—and flies—three planes: the Stearman, a single-engine Tri-Pacer and a seven-passenger turboprop (a Mitsubishi MU-2) that he pilots to his concerts. The jet is worth $2 million, but Clark has given his heart to the biplane. "When you go up in the MU-2 you're going someplace," he says. "When you go up in the Stearman, you're going up to fly."
You could hardly call it a bird's-eye view, since no bird with a brain would try it. But there was Hee Haw's Roy Clark, humming along at 1,500 feet with a song in his heart and his feet in the clouds. It's the country singer's way of letting his hair down. "Flying is the only thing that totally relaxes me," he explains. "I leave my problems on the ground and I don't pick 'em up again till I get down." Thus it was that Clark took off last week from Downtown Airport in Tulsa, where he lives, and aimed his 1941 vintage biplane (a Stearman PT-17, originally built as an Army trainer) into the haze. Moments later, puttering along at a leisurely 120 miles per hour, he put the little plane into a roll. "This doesn't frighten me," he explained when the horizon was straight again. "It's the most thrilling thing I do."