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YOUR PURCHASE OF THESE BOOKS SUPPORTS THE WEB SITES THAT BRING TO YOU THE HISTORY BEHIND OLD AIRFIELD REGISTERS

Your copy of the Davis-Monthan Airfield Register (available in paperback) with all the pilots' signatures and helpful cross-references to pilots and their aircraft is available at the link. 375 pages with black & white photographs and extensive tables

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The Congress of Ghosts (available as Kindle Edition eBook) is an anniversary celebration for 2010.  It is an historical biography, that celebrates the 5th year online of www.dmairfield.org and the 10th year of effort on the project dedicated to analyze and exhibit the history embodied in the Register of the Davis-Monthan Airfield, Tucson, AZ. This book includes over thirty people, aircraft and events that swirled through Tucson between 1925 and 1936. It includes across 277 pages previously unpublished photographs and texts, and facsimiles of personal letters, diaries and military orders. Order your copy at the link.

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Military Aircraft of the Davis Monthan Register, 1925-1936 (available in paperback) at the link. This book describes and illustrates with black & white photographs the majority of military aircraft that landed at the Davis-Monthan Airfield between 1925 and 1936. The book includes biographies of some of the pilots who flew the aircraft to Tucson as well as extensive listings of all the pilots and airplanes. Use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author, while supplies last.

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Art Goebel's Own Story (available as free PDF download) by Art Goebel (edited by G.W. Hyatt) is written in language that expands for us his life as a Golden Age aviation entrepreneur, who used his aviation exploits to build a business around his passion.  Available as a free download at the link.

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Winners' Viewpoints: The Great 1927 Trans-Pacific Dole Race (available as Kindle Edition eBook) is available at the link. This book describes and illustrates with black & white photographs the majority of military aircraft that landed at the Davis-Monthan Airfield between 1925 and 1936. The book includes biographies of some of the pilots who flew the aircraft to Tucson as well as extensive listings of all the pilots and airplanes. Use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author, while supplies last.

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Clover Field: The first Century of Aviation in the Golden State (available in paperback & Kindle Edition) With the 100th anniversary in 2017 of the use of Clover Field as a place to land aircraft in Santa Monica, this book celebrates that use by exploring some of the people and aircraft that made the airport great. 281 pages, black & white photographs.

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ROSCOE TURNER

 

Roscoe Turner, Ca. 1933 (Source: Staines)
Roscoe Turner, Ca. 1933 (Source: Staines)

 

 

Roscoe Turner landed at least once at Glendale, on December 14, 1930 at 1:58PM. He carried one unidentified passenger in the Lockheed Air Express identified by tower Operator A.J. Lygum as Lockheed NR3057. The airplane was owned by the Gilmore Oil Company. You can find photographs of the airplane in Gilmore livery at the link for the airplane.

 

During the 1920s and 30s he flew in a number of Hollywood movies. One in particular, "Such Men Are Dangerous," was interrupted by a horrendous mid-air accident that became part of Turner's life and bad dreams. The article below, from the Modesto News Herald (CA), January 3, 1930, describes the circumstances of the accident. It was one of the worst air disasters in the history of aviation up to that point. Fortunately, Turner was in an airplane separate from the ones that crashed. He is quoted later in the article.

 

PLANES CRASH IN MID-AIR; 10 DIE.
DEATH STEPS IN AS DIRECTOR IN MOVIE STUNT OVER OCEAN.
KENNETH HAWKS, HOLLYWOOD PICTURE LUMINARY, SEVEN ASSISTANTS AND TWO PILOTS PLUNGED INTO SEA AS SHIPS COLLIDE 3000 FEET UP; THREE BODIES RECOVERED.

Santa Monica, Cal., Jan 3 -- (AP) -- Two naval airplanes, scanning the depths of the sea from the air, to-day located the locked wreckage of two motion picture airplanes, which yesterday collided and plunged in flames into the ocean, taking ten men to their deaths. The sunken wreckage, which held in its grip the bodies of seven of its victims, immediately afterwards was contacted by the grappling hooks of a navy mine sweeper.

Santa Monica, Jan. 3 -- (AP) -- The placid Pacific rolls gently to-day over the watery sepulcher of seven of ten men, who yesterday met a flaming death three thousand feet above the sea in catering to a public whim. The charred and shattered bodies of three are in a morgue, where sorrowing relatives will claim them before the world forgets.

They were making a motion picture thriller. Had they succeeded, the world would never have seen or known them. For they were behind the scenes men -- directors, camera-men, property men, airplane pilots.
Yesterday they soared out above the sea -- two plane loads of men and cameras and equipment. They hovered over a third plane, waiting for a stunt man to drop away toward the water with his parachute. They were to make a thrilling sequence in a story based on the mid-channel disappearance of Captain ALFRED LOWENSTEIN, Belgian financier, from a France to England transport plane on July 5, 1928.

The cameras were grinding and nerves were tensed for the final swoop, when a pilot erred, a flashing sun ray blinded, or a vagrant air current played a role as a messenger of death. No one lived to tell what it was.

Flaming Wreckage.
Suddenly the planes whipped together almost head-on. Wings splintered, crumpled, and folded back. Cabins ground together, telescoped. Gasoline tanks burst and flared. In the twinkling of an eye the combined wreckage shot seaward with the speed of a projectile.
Three bodies were catapulted from the flame spewing hulks during the hissing plunge and fell into the water away from the volcanic spout of spray, fire and smoke which marked the crash of the planes on the surface.
Within a few minutes only a thin film of oil, flattening out the white-topped waves, bore evidence of the tragedy. No more bodies appeared, and no wreckage came to the surface.

The Dead:
KENNETH HAWKS, 32, Hollywood, motion picture director. Husband of Mary Astor, film actress. Body not recovered.
MAX GOLD, 29, Hollywood, assistant director, married. Body recovered.
CONRAD WELLS, 31, Hollywood, cameraman, married. Body recovered.
GEORGE EASTMAN, 29, Santa Monica, cameraman, married. Body not recovered.
BEN FRANKEL, 26, Hollywood, assistant cameraman, unmarried. Body not recovered.
OTTO JORDAN, 26, Hollywood, assistant cameraman, unmarried. Body not recovered.
TOM HARRIS, 25, Hollywood, property man, married. Body not recovered.
HANK JOHANNES, 24, Hollywood, property man, unmarried. Body not recovered.
ROSS COOK, 28, Santa Monica, pilot, unmarried. Body not recovered.
HALLOCK ROUSE, 29, Santa Monica, pilot, unmarried. Body not recovered.

Four Escape.
JACOB TRIEBWASSER, parachute jumper, who had expected to risk his life in a hazardous leap into the sea, had not yet entered the scene when death stepped in as director. He and his pilot Lieut. Col. ROSCOE TURNER, and two companions, FRED OSBORNE and BERT WHITE, motion picture technicians, soared away unscathed, their plane not yet having been maneuvered into line with the camera ships.

TRIEBWASSER was poising for his jump, waiting for the word from WHITE, who, responsible for the timing of the leap, was watching the camera planes, when a thin cry wafted through the roar of the motors:
"They're crashing!"

TURNER, 500 feet below the doomed camera planes, wheeled his ship well into the clear before the shrieking, fire-streamed wreckage plunged by.

Describes Scene.
"I saw the planes," WHITE said, "one of which was settling, came together. Their wing tips touched. Then the wings telescoped and the cabins crushed together. There was an explosive flash, and bodies were hurled out. The flaming ships began to fall like plummels into the sea."

"No one could have lived in those planes before they struck the water. They were enveloped in fire. They fell apart as they struck the surface of the ocean."

Investigation and a search for bodies arose to-day in the wake of the disaster. A half dozen speedboats patrolled the sea graveyard where the two cabin ships plunged beneath the waves.

Only the three bodies which were lifted from the ocean swells shortly after the tragedy had been found. The remainder, it was believed, were pinioned in the mass of wreckage of the two planes on the ocean floor. Searchers believed it might be necessary to employ divers to recover the remaining bodies.

Inquiries Started.
Meanwhile, the official wheels of inquiry moved to determine causes and blame for the catastrophe. Captain WALTER PARKIN, head of the aeronautics branch of the department of commerce at Los Angeles, assumed charge of the government investigation, while Coroner FRANK NANCE of Los Angeles County began assembling evidence for an inquest, the date of which was set tentatively for the first of next week.

With the first flush of nervous tension and horror replaced by a sober analysis of the tragedy, a new version of the fatal collision was injected by Lieut. Col. ROSCOE TURNER, famous trans-continental flier, who, with two companions, was in a third ship in the flight, the only plane which escaped destruction.

TURNER'S Impression.
TURNER said he did not believe the two planes, which were piloted by veteran fliers, ROSS COOK, 28, and HALLOCK ROUSE, 29, employees of the Tanner Air Lines, struck head on. The aviator said a fleeting impression he gained as he looked from his cabin cockpit at the plummeting mass of wreckage, fire and smoke, was that one ship struck the other from beneath.

"I do not think they struck head on," Col TURNER said, "but I believe that one ship was climbing at the time and the pilot did not see the other and hit from beneath." TURNER was circling to the left of the two planes at the time. In them were the cameramen and film executives who were preparing to photograph an ocean parachute jump which JACOB TRIEBWASSER was to attempt from TURNER'S plane.

With the passing of hours and the failure to recover additional bodies, the Merritt salvage tug, Salt, with a veteran ocean diver aboard, CHARLES SMALE, was sent to the spot.

The possibility of recovering the bodies by diving was believed slight, however, by Captain FRED NYSTROM of the S. S. Ruth Alexander, who was within a mile of the point where the wrecked airplanes sank after the collision.

204 Feet To Bottom.
Captain NYSTROM pointed out that divers in still, fresh water had been able to explore only a maximum depth of 300 feet and said that the rough, ocean salt water likely would reduce this limit by a considerable margin. At the time of the crash Captain NYSTROM fixed the spot on his charts as two and one-half miles north, northwest of Point Vicente Light and said the depth of the ocean there was 204 feet.

The Salt was equipped with grappling hooks for use in the event SMALE is unable to reach the ocean floor.
Another unverified report said the naval mine sweeper Brant was enroute to San Pedro with pieces of wreckage of the planes which its crew had picked up shortly after the collision.

The New York Times of January 3, 1930 also covered this news. It stated, "The loss of the ten persons in today's accident is the most serious ever suffered byt is not the first such accident in the films. Three aviators lot their lives in the film 'Hell's Angels." Turner also flew in that movie.

If Roscoe Turner wasn't the most colorful denizen of Golden Age Aviation, then he was very close to it. He wore custom made "uniforms" with specially-made monogrammed wing badges. He was gregarious and politik, with a ready smile below an upwardly-waxed moustache.

But don't let the facade fool you. He was a competitive and aggressive air racer, who won all the coveted trophies. Photograph, right, shows him after his victory at the National Air Races on September 25, 1933, which resulted in his acquiring the Bendix Trophy for the transcontinental race from Floyd Bennett Field in New York to Los Angeles, CA. He covered the distance in 10 hours 6.5 minutes.

He won all three major Golden Age air race trophies. They are, in the order in which he won them, the Harmon Trophy (1932), Bendix Trophy (1933) and Thompson Trophy (three times in 1934, 1938 and 1939).

Roscoe Turner Souvenir/Business Card, Date Unknown (Source: Swift)

 

Turner flew far and wide, and we find his signatures in five of our Airfield Registers. He signed the Glendale Register once, he signed the Clover Field Register once, Peterson Field Register three times, Pitcairn Field Register once and the Davis-Monthan Register four times. He also signed four times the Albuquerque, NM Register, for which I have yet to craft a Web site.

Turner's biography is online at the Davis-Monthan Register Web site at the link. Please direct your browser to his biography for additional photos, including U.S. Postage cachets with his signature, and links to the airplanes he flew.

Souvenir business card, left, courtesy of cowboy poet and writer Hal Swift, whom you will discover at the link, spent some time in Indianapolis, IN where Turner ran a business at the city airport. He knew Turner personally. Please direct your browser to Hal's link to learn about and enjoy some of the writing he does.

Turner's business was called "Turner Aviation." Roscoe's brother, Bob, was a partner in the business. It was located at the Indianapolis Municipal Airport, now called Weir Cook Indianapolis International Airport. 

Roscoe Turner was born September 29, 1895, eight years before the first airplane flew. He died June 23, 1970 just before his 75th birthday, and just about a year after humans first walked on the moon. He flew West with Transport pilot certificate T388.

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THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 06/13/13 REVISED: 09/21/14, 05/16/16