TROY — Before Troy Memorial Stadium was built, Judd Boak’s flying field was the site of the final assembly and testing of Clayton Brukner’s legendary Waco aircraft.
Now Clayton Brukner’s statue will watch over that same field where plant No. 4 was located before the plant was moved to Peters Road in 1931.
On Tuesday, three 8-foot tall statues were set in the sculpture garden celebrating three members of Troy’s aviation history. The “Troy Aviation Heroes and Pioneers” project will soon be unveiled to the public. A dedication ceremony date has not been set as of press time.
The sculpture garden includes statues of National Aviation Hall of Fame inductees Clayton Brukner and Robert Hartzell. The third statue honors NASA astronaut Dr. Nancy Currie-Gregg,Ph.D who has flown four space missions. Currie-Gregg is currently a principal engineer in the NASA Engineering and Safety Center. She is a graduate of Troy High School.
Thomas Hartzell watched as the sculptures — which include his father, the late Robert Hartzell — were erected in their permanent place on North Market Street on Tuesday.
“It came up a couple of years ago. (Attorney Bill McGraw) thought it would be nice to have statues honoring people who were original pioneers in aviation. Clayton Brukner was of course was president of Waco Aircraft, which was at one time was one of the biggest aircraft producers in the country. My father, Robert Hartzell, founded Hartzell Propeller when he was still in college in Dayton, Ohio. Then Nancy Currier, a graduate of Troy High School and she made (four) shuttle flights.”
Hartzell said artist Mike Major “did a wonderful job” on the statues which honor his family and the strong aviation history in the Troy area.
“I think it’s going to make a nice addition for Troy. Having Nancy Currie as a lady astronaut might inspire a lot of young ladies. Here’s a lady, native of Troy and went to Troy High School and did all of this the same way as Clayton and my father — they just started off early — early 1917 was when Hartzell Propeller was started and Waco was started in 1924-25,” Hartzell said.
The sculptures were designed by artist Mike Major of Urbana.
Major was on site Tuesday morning making final adjustments to the statues before they are unveiled to the public with a dedication ceremony.
Major said he enjoyed reconnecting with his home county and old friends during the project.
“I think it adds so much. It’s very eye-catching,” Major said. Major said it took a year to complete all three statues.
The Acorn Society and the Troy Foundation with local attorney Bill McGraw who helped lead the fundraising for the project. The site is located by the Senior Citizen’s Center and the Michael Bashaw sculpture along North Market Street.
Bruns Construction provided the site work for the project.
Clayton Brukner was one of the founders of the WACO Aircraft Company. Robert Hartzell founded the Hartzell Walnut Propeller Company. Hartzell lived in Troy.