Mark was a four year member of the U.S. Navy Tailhook Legacy Flight Demonstration Team. He was an airshow demonstration pilot for The Commemorative Air Force Museum and was active with the museum’s SoCal Wing in Camarillo Ca. Mark was rated in the T-28, P-51, F6F, F8F, and (AV) L-29 Soviet jet trainer. He was an FAA Authorized Aircraft Instructor for the T-28 and a warbird stall/ spin recovery, and aerobatic instructor pilot. Mark was a native Californian and a principal of a commercial fuel and oil distribution corporation.
Mark Robert Matye rode off in to a beautiful sunset on Thursday, Aug. 17, 2011, with poise and grace at the age of 62.
The son of legendary Lockheed test pilot Robert Matye and mother Jean, Mark spent his early childhood in the desert of Juniper Hills, Calif., overlooking Palmdale. After a career at Lockheed, the Matye Family settled in Ventura where Mark adapted quickly to high school and Ventura itself in which he always called home. He became a stand out football player and graduated from Ventura High School in 1967.
Mark’s keen interest in all things mechanical led him to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo to study engineering while on a football scholarship. In 1970, Mark left Cal Poly to play semi-pro football as an offensive lineman for the Oklahoma Wranglers. After two seasons with the Wranglers, Mark was invited to try out with the New York Jets, but a knee injury during training camp cut short his professional football career. After football and a look into a few other ventures, Mark turned to his other passion of engineering, and was quickly hired by the Ventura based Vetco Offshore Company as a petroleum systems engineer which found him traveling the world installing, maintaining and inspecting Vetco offshore oil subsea platform systems and quickly rising to supervisory positions, eventually teaching worldwide buyers of Vetco subsea systems.
With a solid background in the petroleum industry, Mark seized the opportunity in 1987 to return home and form a partnership with a childhood friend that would eventually become a Ventura County petroleum leader, Mac Valley Oil. Mark remained a principal until his passing. He will be missed by his many friends and peers in the industry, none more so than his partners, Jim McCaslin and Steve Fuller.
Mark never forgot his childhood dream of following in his father’s footsteps as he trained and became a pilot at Santa Paula airport in 1986. As with all his pursuits, Mark excelled, and by 1989 was flying aerobatic air shows. In the two decades that followed, he gained national recognition as a premier WWII fighter pilot, air show pilot, and instructor. On any given day, Mark could be found rolling over the Santa Paula Valley in his own restored military airplane. Those around Mark fancied him a modern day John Wayne in both manner and the way he treated others.
His true passion and calling was realized when he became an accomplished backcountry horseman, and was selected and deputized as a member of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Posse. Mark was never better suited, or happier, than when he was either riding or patrolling the beautiful trails in the hills of Ventura County on his beloved horse Choak.
Mark’s enduring legacy will not be what he accomplished, but the monumental effect he had and will continue to have on so many people’s lives. His imposing character encased a loving, encouraging, and thoughtful friend, brother, and father-like figure. His smile, hearty laugh, and firm handshake will be truly missed.