Roscoe Turner


Born Corinth MS, Sept 1895. Died June 23, 1970. Applied for Air Service in World War I, but was rejected because of his lack of a college education, so enlisted as an ambulance driver in May 1917. Then in October he applied for transfer to the Air Service and was that time accepted for flight training in balloons and aircraft, being honourably discharged in 1919 as a 1st Lieutenant. He bought a surplus Standard H-1 and joined the cadre of post-war barnstormers, developing his image of sartorial splendour by designing the special uniform that would become his trademark costume. His flashing smile and easy personality, the eye-catching uniforms, his penchant for self publicity, his sleek aircraft and major sponsors all went toward the creation of a popular image.

However, in the Turner's case, it was not all smoke and mirrors—he lived up to the image. After a few years of movie flying and airline operations—while with Nevada Airlines in 1929 he also became a Colonel in the Nevada National Guard... hence his adopted title#151;Turner began making a mark in the world of air racing that was never equalled by any other flyer in that colourful early era. Among his many accomplishments were numerous transcontinental records, both west-east and east-west, and local dashes.

In 1933 he won the Shell Speed Races and the famous Bendix Trophy. He was also first to cross the finish line in the Closed-Course Thompson Trophy Race, but was technically disqualified for a pylon infraction. In 1934 he won the Thompson, was second in the Shell Race, and finished second in the Speed Division of the MacRobertson International Air Race from London to Melbourne. In 1935 he came in only 23.5 seconds behind the winner in the Bendix Race, and led the Thompson until the last half lap when his engine overheated. In 1938 he placed second in the Golden Gate Trophy Race, and won the Thompson Trophy for the second time.

At the close of the 1939 National Air Races, at which he had won the Thompson Trophy for a third time, he announced his retirement from active competition to found a flying school at Indianapolis IN. During WW2 he was responsible for training 3,300 military pilots. As America's premier speed flyer, Turner was multiple winner of the Harmon and Henderson Trophies, and received a special Distinguished Flying Cross from Congress in 1952 for his contributions to aviation.

The Corinth municipal airport was renamed in his honour in 1961. Beyond his valuable contributions to the sport or racing and advancement of aviation technology, Colonel Roscoe Turner was a legendary personification of a golden era in aviation history.