PILOT STORIES: Eddie Gardner
Eddie Gardner, who began flying the mail in
1918, had been nicknamed "Turkey Bird" by fellow
pilots who thought his wobbly takeoffs resembled a turkey
trying to fly. Somewhat insulted, Gardner insisted on shortening
the name to "Turk Bird," which he considered more
acceptable. He had already logged over 1,400 hours of flight
time and was working as a senior flight instructor for the
Army when Gardner was asked to join the newly-formed Air Mail
Before taking to the air, Eddie Gardner spent several years working as a chauffeur and mechanic in Chicago, Illinois. He had a love of auto racing, and in 1910 he purchased a sporty National Motor Vehicle Company racing car from Benjamin Lipsner (who, as the first superintendent of the Air Mail Service, hired Gardner as an airmail pilot).
On May 15, 1919, Eddie Gardner, who had made
the only moderately successful Chicago - New York trip during
the path-finding tests, took off from Cleveland with the west-bound
mail, landing in Chicago three hours and 50 minutes later. Having survived his years in the airmail service, Eddie Gardner died on May 6, 1921 while stunt flying at a Kansas county fair.
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