Archives On The Air 17: The Flying Feline—Roscoe Turner Collection

Jul 11, 2018

The 1930s usually conjure images of dust and despondence – not of lion cubs sitting in the back of racing airplanes. But from 1930 to 1938, legendary Pilot Roscoe Turner was flying in cross-country airplanes with his pet lion Gilmore.

Roscoe Turner made Gilmore the lion his copilot around 1929. Turner had already established himself as a noteworthy pilot long before the flying feline hit the scene.

Turner was born in Mississippi in 1895. He learned to fly while serving in the military during World War I.

Turner continued to fly after leaving the military. He raced in his plane, he did stunt flying, and he experimented with new ideas in the air, including a flying circus. Turner also owned a commercial flight service later in his life.

Roscoe Turner did not just fly planes, he also designed planes and broke records flying them.

Turner’s papers are available at UW’s American Heritage Center and include model airplanes, blueprints, and of course photos of Gilmore the lion flying high.