Roscoe Turner



and Gilmore the Lion


 Born 29th September, 1895 in a small farmhouse near Corinth, Mississippi; left school at 16, became a car mechanic, then a 'balloon pilot' in France and Germany during and after WWI.

Always called himself 'Colonel' (although he only reached First Lieutenant in the Army), wore a (self-designed) uniform - cap, sky blue tunic, jodhpurs and boots - and, although he said that he didn't particularly like wearing 'this monkey suit', he reckoned that it 'makes people notice me'.

As, perhaps, did Gilmore the lion cub, who flew with him (to begin with, on his lap) and had his own parachute. (Later known as Gilmore the Lion, and finally ...

gilmore the stuffed lion

Gilmore the Stuffed Lion).

Dare-devil barnstormer, wing-walker and parachutist through the 20s; permanently penniless, he was sentenced to a year in jail in 1922 when he unknowingly bought a stolen plane (he was later pardoned). Moved to Los Angeles and flew for the movies, including Howard Hughes' 'Hells Angels', but it was from a combination of flying movie stars on charter trips and air racing that he finally made some money.

"There was only about a dozen people in the United States in 1939 who had flown over 300 miles per hour - after 1926, just a handful of us kept speed development going".

FA_pangborn_turner with Clyde Pangborn before the 1934 MacRobertson Race

A hugely successful air racer - winner of the Bendix Trophy, and the Thompson Trophy 3 times.

Died 23rd June, 1970 in Corinth, Mississippi, aged 74 (Gilmore died in 1952, aged 22).

Roscoe is buried in Crown Hill Cemetery, Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana.

Gilmore is in the Smithsonian!


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