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Franklin Hurtt - Memories

The first contact that I had with Frank Hurtt was in the early 1930's when Herbert Sargent, fellow student at NYU Guggenheim School of Aeronautics, introduced me to Frank. Frank had been a High School classmate of Herb's as well as fellow power flying enthusiast.

My brothers and I organized the Hudson Valley Soaring Club in the middle 1930's and Frank and Herb became members. At that time the club had the SGU 1- 3 "Brick" utility glider and soon after they bought the prototype SGU 1-7 which was named the "Cruller" The club operated from the Wurtsboro Airport, N.Y.

Frank had graduated from Pratt Institute and had a graphic arts postion with J.Walter Thompson Advertisement Agency. Frank and Herb often went with us on our yearly pilgrimage to Elmira from Peekskill, to attend the National Soaring Contests in the 1930's.

When the U.S. Air Force started thelr military glider program in 1941 Frank was hired by the Elmira Area Soaring Corporation to be a glider pilot instructor at their military glider school in Mobile, Alabama. There they trained pilots for the troop and cargo gliders used in WWII.

After that program tapered off when sufficient glider pilots had been trained, Frank became a powered plane instructor in an Air Force flight training facility in Tennessee and then in South Carolina.

When that program ended in 1945, Frank moved to Elmira and joined Schweizer Aircraft as a glider Test pilot and chief instructor of the newly formed Schweizer Soaring School. He also did the company's graphic art work and assisted with its advertisement program and with the subcontract work with Fairchild Aircraft.

Frank continued his soaring activity and soon earned his Silver "C" award #47. He flew in a number of Regional and Nationals Soaring Contests. In November of 1945, Frank and Paul A.Schweizer set a new National Two-place glider duration record of 9 hrs and 17 minutes. He broke this record in March of 1946, with Richard Powell in the prototype 2-22 when they stayed up 10 hours and 9 minutes.

When we had to reduce the glider program in 1948 Frank took a postion with the Ithaca Engraving Company as Graphic Arts director and there he developed many contacts with Cornell University.

He went with Cornell in 1961 as a graphic Arts Designer and added his artistic touch to various projects of the athletics Department. He assisted with the Football Program and made many of the covers.He also did layout work and design for NCAA wrestling,swimming and lacrosse championships, [across all star games and the Cornell Heptagonal indoor track meets . Although he retired from Cornell in 1978, he continued his contributions to the Cornell Athletics Department.

Frank continued his soaring activities by commuting to Elmira and he was involved with SAC's advertising and promotional program to popularize soaring in the USA. He was runner-up in the Soaring Society of America's logo design contests and designed many of the certificates, posters and other printed material used by the SSA,NSM and the 1-26 Association.. Frank also designed various SAC advertising pieces including the annual Christmas Card. He ususally did the art work for the back cover Schweizer Ad in Soaring magazine which started in the July/Aug 1952 issue and continued uninterrupted through May of 1985 for a total of 33 years.

Frank asisted with the creation of the original Harris Hill Soaring Museum in the Harris Hill Administration Building which led to the National Soaring Museum in 1969. He assisted the NSM in many ways as it grew and acquired the present NSM building. In 1980 he took an active part in the exhibit Committee along with his wife, Betty. They played an important part in the new exhibits that were added each year, for sixteen years, until he had to taper off in 1997 due to health reasons.

Frank contributed much to soaring movement, and to the NSM, the SSA, Schweizer Aircraft and the 1-26 Associations, soaring programs, and much of his art work will continue to be a part of the soaring movement. On a personal basis, I have a copper sculpture of soaring birds over my fireplace that Frank made for me,which will continue to remind me of Frank and his many contributions to soaring.

– Paul A.Schweizer

Posted: 6/1/1998

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