Junior Birdmen  
By H.S. Walesby and F. Runnels
DETROIT SUNDAY TIMES Sunday, September 8, 1935

Editor's Note: This came from a full page of the Detroit Sunday Times devoted to the "Junior Birdmen of America." The page featured articles headlined;
"800 Birdmen Enrolled in 1936 Scale Model Event; $3,000 Prizes,"
1,500 to Compete; Sikorsky S-39 Is Pattern
"Birdmen Will Get Novel Fall Events."
Spectacular Series Mapped to Widen Knowledge of Wing Members

Junior Birdmen Air Course
prepared by U.S. Bureau of Air Commerce.
This is the forty-ninth lesson in the Junior Birdmen air course prepared by the United States Bureau of Air Commerce. You can obtain a booklet containing the reprint of the first 26 lessons by writing to the Junior Birdmen Wing Headquarters care of this newspaper, enclosing five cents for cost and mailing. This reprint is fully illustrated.

Louis Bleriot, hero of the first airplane flight across the English Channel, while in London attending a jubilee luncheon, endorsed flying as a "promising career."
     "Flying is a promising career even for young people," said this elderly man who is still inventing new types of planes. "Girls as well as boys should learn to fly, for I foresee the time when private airplanes will be as numerous as automobiles, the time when all young people will know how to fly."
     "Bleriot is taking things quietly nowadays. He suffers from heart trouble, but, even so, aviation occupies all of his thoughts.

Fred Martin -- In order to avoid dispute, the correct honors given to the Wright brothers is that they were the first to fly a powerful man-carrying heavier than aircraft.
Henry Paterson -- All Army air corps planes are being equipped with wing flaps.
Frances Holden -- The most active woman pilot today is probably Amelia Earhart. Mrs. Lindbergh has done very little flying recently.
Editor's Note: I was born in 1926, but I can't remember that kind of attention being afforded to the "Junior Birdmen of America", Can you?

     One of the most memorable figures in a spectacular field of endeavor, pioneer aviation, was Colonel Roscoe Turner. Barnstormer, flamboyant showman, test pilot, and self promoter, Colonel Turner won the famous and prestigious Bendix Trophy in 1933 and the Thompson Trophy in 1934, 1938, and 1939. Turner and Jimmy Doolittle, of Tokyo Raider fame, were the only ones to have won both races. Turner was the only one to have won the Thompson three times.
     Born in Corinth, Mississippi and educated through the tenth grade in a one rood schoolhouse, Roscoe Turner wanted to become a locomotive engineer. Ernest Waits, a local jeweler, optician, and inventor, built and flew a home made airplane in Corinth in 1910. Waits fascinated young Roscoe who was twenty-seven years his junior. They became fast friends and Turner had found his lifelong interest.
     The First World War was underway and Roscoe applied to the Army. In January 1918 the Army accepted him into a balloon pilot training course. Later while assigned to a balloon unit in France, he received some unofficial flying lessons in two-seat trainers from brother flying officers. After the War, he joined the Memphis Aerial Company that developed into a flying circus.
     In his early entrepreneurial career Turner became a big, imposing figure, always smartly dressed in a blue tunic, jodhpurs, and boots. He usually flashed a wide grin beneath a needle sharp handle-bar mustache. He was made to order for the early swashbuckling days of aviation.
     By buying, selling and borrowing planes, Turner became a tireless promoter of aviation and aviation safety. Constantly one step ahead of creditors in the heart of the depression era he often miraculously gathered the means to fly another airplane in a race or point to point record try. At one time he established at least nine world records.
     Many youngsters of the 1930's had their interest in aviation awakened, as I did, when they heard of Roscoe Turner for the first time as he promoted the Junior Birdmen of America, and the Roscoe Turner Flying Corps. Oil company promotions that involved a lion cub named Gilmore and the Colonel were everywhere. Gilmore flew with Roscoe often sharing the cabin and sometimes the cockpit with him when flying maneuvers would frighten the cub.
From The Times-Union, Jacksonville, FL, July 23, 1995:
TITLE: ROSCOE TURNER: Aviation's Master Showman
AUTHOR: Carroll V. Glines
DATA: Smithsonian Institution Press; 314 pages
Reviewed by Vincent J. Bagli
This entire article and a comprehensive story about Roscoe Turner may be found in the
Corinth Information Database, Version 1.3, by Milton Sandy, Jr.

  Junior Birdmen Song
[Tune: On Brave Old Army Team]
Up in the air, Junior Birdmen; up in the air, upside down,
Up in the air, Junior Birdmen; with your noses to the ground.
And when you hear the grand announcement: that your wings are made of tin.
Well, then you know, Junior Birdmen, it's time to send your box tops in.
For it takes: 5 box tops, 4 bottle bottoms, 3 coupons, 2 wrappers, and one thin dime!
Actions: Make a face mask each time you sing the words, "Junior Birdmen" by lacing your fingers.
Then, with thumbs under the chin, twist your hands outwards so that you make goggles for the eyes.
On "Upside down," perform a jet plane swoop outstretched arms.
On "Ground," bring the swooping arms as near to the ground as possible.
From Jim Speir's Scouting Page

Junior Birdmen Wings
with Captains Bar

Junior Birdmen Wings
Photo Courtesy of Leon Rue

       I found this item on Leon Rue's Radio Premiums website, (Now Obsolete), and asked him if I could add a picture of the wings to my website for the interest of my visitors. He responded by e-mail as follows.
     Thanks for your interest in my site. Attached is the picture. I have other Air Hero premiums such as Frank Hawks, a Capt. Midnight Air Heros stamp book, and three Pure Oil books about the exploits of Jimmie Madden. I sold my Roscoe Turner badges to a relative of his. If the picture is too large and you cannot adjust it, let me know what size you want and I'll send another. Took the picture just now with my Nikon digital camera with no flash. It does great for small items.
     I am a former naval officer (Korean period) and enjoyed the pictures on your site. Especially liked the "first plane" one. I don't live that far from you. I am in Orange County.
Hi Ralph,
     I stumbled upon your site this morning after thinking about my dad, Frederick Lee Chapman, deceased in 1972. In his younger years, he was a journalist for a Hearst newspaper in New York City. (This was during the depression, and he was fortunate to have a decent job!) I don't know a lot of the details, but for a time, he wrote a daily column about the Junior Birdmen. Dad was very interested in aviation.
     In 1965 - I was a college junior - mom showed me several large boxes of well organized, clipped newspaper columns stored in our attic. These were the Junior Birdmen columns my dad wrote! Strangely, up until that time, I was unaware of this aspect of his life. I was awed, and happy to know of these (to me!) treasures, and looked forward to the day when I could peruse them.
     As it happened - apparently during one of our family's many moves - these clippings "disappeared." I never saw them again.
     The years have gone by, and I've thought many times about trying to find at least a sample of my Dad's work. But I've never taken the time to do the research. It's strange how things work: I'm an engineer by profession, and use computers and the internet daily, but it never crossed my mind until this morning to use the internet to explore this world.
     Well, I searched Google for "Junior Birdmen" and one of your URLs turned up on the first page of 229 hits. I found your homepage and I look forward to exploring your site which appears very interesting.
     But I also saw your email address and could not resist a quick note to tell you my story. With your knowledge and background, I though you might be able to provide me with some leads for my quest!
By the way, I've lived in Saudi Arabia for the past 3 1/2 years and work on a project here in Jeddah.
With kind regards,
Bill Chapman
Editor's Note: If you can help Bill with his search, I know he would appreciate it. You may contact him at:

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