Roscoe Turner

Roscoe Turner

Roscoe Turner

Roscoe Turner, is probably the greatest air racing pilot of the Golden Age.He was born in Mississippi on September 29, 1895. He was a boy who loved to tinker with machines, and as he grew older, with fast automobiles.Turner learned to fly in the World War I Air Service, but the war ended before he was ready for combat. He bought a half-interest in a war surplus Curtiss JN4D Jenny and traveled around the country barnstorming.In 1929, Turner began his successful racing career aided by his ability to get the utmost in speed out of the planes he flew.Photographs of Turnerís planes throughout his racing career tell the story of a man who had mastered the art of securing corporate sponsorships. Smith propellers, Pratt and Whitney motors, H. T. sparkplugs, Bendix, Twentieth Century Pictures, Heinz 57,and Mac Millian Ringfree oil were just a few of the many names and logos to appear on the side of Turnerís planes.

In the ten years he raced, He set numerous transcontinental records, In 1933 he won the Shell Speed Dashes and the famous Bendix Trophy. He had also been first to cross the finish line in the Thompson Trophy race, but was technically disqualified for cutting a pylon. In 1934 he won the Thompson Trophy Race, was second in the Shell Speed Dashes and finished second in the Speed Division of the MacRobertson International Air Race from London to Melbourne. In 1935 he finished an agonizing 23.5 seconds behind the winner in the Bendix Trophy Race, flying from Los Angeles, California to Cleveland, Ohio, and led the Thompson Trophy Race until the last half lap when his engine began trailing black smoke.

In 1938 Roscoe was back with a brand new Laird/Turner Racer in which he placed second in the Golden Gate Trophy Race and won the Thompson Trophy Race for the second time. At the close of the 1939 Cleveland National Air Races at which he had won the Thompson Trophy for an unprecedented third time, Roscoe Turner announced his retirement from active competition.

As America's premier speed flyer, Turner was a multiple winner of the Harmon and Henderson Trophies, and received a special Distinguished Flying Cross by Act of Congress in 1952.


Roscoe Turner and his #25 Wedell-Williams and #29 Laird-Turner Racers.This photo was generously donated to Me, by Mr. Gilbert Krebs

Roscoe Turner is presented with the Thompson Trophy by legendary film star Mary Pickford at the 1933 National Air Races, © Bettmann/Corbis. Roscoe Turner finished first and had the trophy in his arms,but was disqualified for cutting a pylon and James Wedell who placed second was awarded the trophy,He flew his: Wedell-Williams 44 (Speed: 237.95 M.P.H.)(Prize Purse,$9,500)(100-mile race)

© 1999

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