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Return flight: McCook man wants to bring "Newsboy" back to home town

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Newsboy today, in a Seattle museum.
(Courtesy photo)
A McCook man wants to bring "The Newsboy" back to McCook.

Gene E. Morris proposed to the board of directors of the High Plains Historical Society Thursday morning that the Curtiss Robin C-1 airplane that the McCook Daily Gazette used in 1929 and 1930 to deliver newspapers -- writing aviation and journalism history -- be returned to McCook.

"The Newsboy is so much a part of our history -- McCook, Southwest Nebraska, Northwest Kansas, the whole region," said Morris, who is not to be confused with Gene O. Morris, former Gazette publisher. "It's vital that we get it back."

Gene E. Morris

In 1929, McCook Daily Gazette Publisher Harry D. Strunk started history's first-ever aerial delivery of a daily newspaper by purchasing a new 1929 Curtis Robin C-1 single-engine airplane for $8,000 and hiring McCook-area pilots Steve Tuttle, Bill Kimsey and Klick Asbergrand to fly over 46 Southwest Nebraska and Northwest Kansas communities and drop bundles of newspapers to waiting paper carriers.

Strunk outfitted his Newsboy with a metal chute attached to a 10-inch hole in the floor through which the newspapers were dropped to a red-flagged drop-off area for each community.

The Newsboy in its heyday. Pilot Steve Tuttle, left, stands with McCook Daily Gazette publisher Harry D. Strunk and McCook's "best girl" 18-year-old Ruth Le Vine, after the christening of the Newsboy in September 1929.
The Curtiss Robin had a 235-horsepower radial engine, a top speed of 120 miles an hour and a cruising speed of 102 mph. Tuttle, Kimsey and Asbergrand alternated flying the non-stop three-hour 389-mile route six days a week. Tuttle's brother, George, also of Oberlin-Cedar Bluffs, was most often the "co-pilot" who dropped the newspapers to waiting carriers.

Customers generally liked the service, many fascinated by the daily "drone" of the Newboys's radial engine. Strunk reported that the Gazette's circulation numbers increased. However, air delivery stopped after a year when, on the ground, the Newsboy was damaged by a tornado.

After that, the Newsboy was sold for junk, resold, stored and finally restored by pilots Perry Schreffler and Robert C. Van Ausdell, both pilots for TWA (Trans-World Airlines).

Since 1972, the Newsboy has been on loan to and displayed at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Wash.

In the early 1950s, McCook pilot and flight instructor Ben Frank resumed aerial delivery of the Gazette, flying a single-engine Cessna 120. But, because of high delivery costs, delivery by the second Newsboy lasted only about four years.

Morris would like to see the original Curtiss Robin Newsboy return to McCook. He plans a trip to Washington, planning also to visit with Schreffler and Van Ausdell, or their heirs, and the heirs of Harry D. Strunk about his desire to hang the Newsboy somewhere, possibly in the Museum of the High Plains, in McCook.

Museum board members voted unanimously to support Morris's project, requesting that he report to the board as it proceeds.

Read more about "The Newsboy," in its current home, here.

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As a former resident of Indianola who now lives in Washington State I'd hate to see this plane taken from it's present home! It has been a wonderful experience taking my young grandchildren to the museum here and telling them some of the history of where I grew up. Alas, I do understand why it would be nice to have it back in McCook however!

-- Posted by kenaicouple on Tue, Jul 14, 2009, at 6:04 PM

Bring it back to McCook, it belongs here!!

It is a wonderful piece of our local history and demonstrates the innovation of Harry Strunk.

-- Posted by ksfarmer on Wed, Jul 15, 2009, at 11:55 PM

For more pics and story see Seattle Museum Of Flight http://www.museumofflight.org/aircraft/c...

-- Posted by DaveD on Fri, Jul 17, 2009, at 11:02 AM

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