Superman is alive and well at the Air Force Reserves' 419th Tactical Fighter Wing.
He doesn't resemble Christopher Reeve, the present Hollywood Superman, nor does he look at all like George Reeves, who played Superman for decades - but he does fly and he travels fast.Maj. Kent D. Clark has been called Superman since he was in Davis High School. "It's all because of my name, Kent Clark, which is Superman's name, Clark Kent, only turned around.
"I was into dramatics and singing and I guess I had a flair for the theatrical. People used to kid me about my name and finally a friend of mine convinced me not to be uptight about my name, but to enjoy it.
"So I started telling people to go ahead and call me Superman and by the time I graduated in 1965 a lot of kids in school didn't even know my real name, but only knew me as Superman or Supe."
The nickname has stuck and "Supe" now appears on the side of the major's F-16 fighter plane.
"The last thing in the world I ever expected to be was a fighter pilot," Clark said. His full-time job is assistant deputy commander for operations for the 419th TFW. He does the same thing as a reservist one weekend a month and during the 419th's two-week annual active duty tour.
Clark said he wanted to be a forest ranger when he was a boy. When he graduated from Utah State University in 1971 with a degree in fish biology he had his eyes set on a career outdoors.
"The Air Force was looking for pilots at the time and some recruiters came to USU and sold me on becoming an Air Force pilot. I joined the Reserves at Hill AFB - it was the 924th Military Airlift Group then - in September 1971 and went to Officer Training School at Lackland AFB, Texas, and then to pilot training school at Vance AFB in Enid, Okla., to learn to fly C-124s."
Clark was in the midst of pilot training when his Reserve unit at Hill changed over to F-105 fighters. "I finished training in December 1971, came home for a short time and then went to McConnell AFB, Wichita, Kan., to learn to fly F-105s."
After completing flight training, Clark returned to school and earned a secondary education teaching certificate and started teaching seminary at Box Elder High School. Over the next 10 years he taught school nine months of the year, worked for the U.S. Forest Service during his summer vacation at Blacksmith Fork in Cache Valley and flew F-105s at Hill.
In 1985, Clark left teaching to become an air reserve technician, first as a range officer, then as training officer and safety officer at the 419th until September 1988 when he became assistant deputy commander for operations.
"I love to fly and I love the Air Force Reserve. I feel I'm lucky to have had the opportunity to become a reserve pilot. I was at the right place at the right time."
Clark flew 1,621 hours as an F-105 pilot and, in F-16s, has logged 650 hours flying time.
Does he like Superman comic books and Superman movies? "Certainly. Superman has always been my hero," Clark said.