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C.J. Brukner, Ca. 1916 (Source: Link)
C.J. Brukner, Ca. 1916 (Source: Link)



Clayton Brukner landed at Tucson as a passenger one time. He flew with Tex Lagrone in the Waco identified as 7774. They arrived on September 8, 1928, westbound for Los Angeles, CA. If you visit the airplane's link, you'll discover that the airplane was less than a month old and was probably being ferried to its new owner in Los Angeles.


Clayton Brukner was born December 18, 1896 at Ravenna, NB. At the time he landed at Tucson, Brukner was the president of the Advance Aircraft Company, based at Troy, OH, which manufactured the Waco airplane. There was no indication in the Register why Brukner was westbound with Lagrone. Perhaps he would hand the keys over to the new owner, or meet with west coast distributors of Waco aircraft.





The following biographical sketch is abridged from Brukner's Find-a-Grave page. Additional genealogical information is at the link, as well as photographs, such as the one above, right ca. 1916.

Clayton John Brukner [was] born in 1896 to John Conrad and Rachel Jane Frye. Within a few years, his family moved to Battle Creek where they resided at 83 Grenville Street. During High School Clayton with his brother Clem developed strong friendships with Ed Goff, Elwood J. Junkin (nick-name "Sam") and his brother Herb Junkin. 

They all were enthusiastically drawn to aviation and initially designed/developed gliders that successfully were airborne. After high school, Brukner was working as an electrician for a time with Postum Cereal Co. at Battle Creek, Michigan. 

They learned of the aviation school that was stationed at Fenton, Michigan, having been established by the O. E. Williams Aeroplane Company. Aware of the aviation course being offered at Fenton, and that Brukner and Junkin were earning $14 a week, they flipped a coin to see who would take the aviation course. Junkin won the toss and participated in the course. Brukner was always near by during his non-working hours. 

About the time their training was complete both Brukner and Junkin went to work (at different times) for Curtiss Aeroplane Manufacturing in Buffalo, NY. From there they pursued enlistment for World War I.

Between the fall of 1919 and the spring of 1920, Harold Deuther, Brukner and Elwood Junkin formed the DBJ Aeroplane Co., building three airplanes. In 1920, Deuther returned to his home in New York and George E. "Buck" Weaver joined the group. They established a formal company called the Weaver Aircraft Co. In 1921, the Weaver Aircraft Co., known by the acronym WACO, built its first practical airplane, the Waco Model 4. 

In 1923, Buck Weaver, and family, returned to Chicago, Illinois. Brukner and Junkin went forward with Weaver Aircraft by reorganizing as the Advance Aircraft Co. This name was selected by Brukner as his dad had a connection with the Advance Thrasher [sic, should be Thresher] Company in Nebraska, and Junkin's dad was employed at the Advance-Rumley Company at Battle Creek, MI. No association with either company, just the same association [same name?].

Buck Weaver passed away in 1924 and Junkin in 1926. When all estate matters were settled, in 1929 the company again reorganized and became the Waco Aircraft Co. and continued as such for its entirety. 

From 1929-1938, with Brukner at the helm, the Waco Aircraft Co. outsold all other competitors two-to-one. 

When Brukner decided to end the company he turned his focus to other quality products. He patented his "Lickity Log Splitter" which continues to be in demand today. He devoted time, hard work, and money to the Brukner Nature Center, an investment of nearly one million dollars. On June 27th, 1967, the nature center was incorporated for charitable, scientific and educational purposes. 

The Brukner Wing at Stouder Memorial Hospital, where Clayton served as president from 1945 to 1950, was also a result of his generosity. Brukner once said "I made my money in Troy and I am going to give all of it back."

Brukner passed away on Dec. 26, 1977. He was enshrined in the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 1997 and the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame in 2011.

More in-depth details about Brukner are in the book, "MEN, WIND and COURAGE, A Pioneer Aviation Story of O. E. Williams and His Associates" [book available online].

This 1942-43 REFERENCE cites Brukner as President, Waco Aircraft Company. He was a member of the Institute of the Aeronautical Sciences, Ohio State Bureau of Aeronautics and an executive of the Aeronatical Chamber of Commerce, publisher of these REFERENCES.

Brukner passed away December 26, 1977 at Dayton, OH. His obituary is below from his Find-a-Grave Web page.

C.J. Brukner Obituary, Sandusky (OH) Register, December 27, 1977 (Source: Link)
C.J. Brukner Obituary, Sandusky (OH) Register, December 27, 1977 (Source: Link)



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