DISCLOSURE: This airplane is not actually formally signed in the Register. Rather, we have a hint that it was in Tucson. This is because it was flown by Roscoe Turner with the "NR" - restricted - registration, and he signed the Register on Sunday, May 3, 1931 flying a Lockheed aircraft that he identified in the Register as simply "NR." Chances are good that it was NR3057. We do have better evidence of its landings at Peterson Field, however.
If you agree to go with this assumption, NC/NR3057 was a Model 3 Air Express monoplane, which had a parasol airfoil and a single, open cockpit behind the wing. This airplane was S/N 75, with a manufacture date of May 13, 1929. It was painted black with silver trim. It was the first Lockheed aircraft to have wheel pants installed.
According to the Allen reference cited in the left sidebar, It was used originally by the Lockheed Aircraft Company as a demonstrator with at least three different engine models. During 1929 it was flown unsuccessfuly by Register pilot Hub Fahy in a transcontinental speed record attempt. It then sold to the General Tire & Rubber Company of Akron, OH. It was owned by General from 1929-30 and wore the livery, "The General Tire." Under their ownership, the airplane was flown to first place in the cross-country event from Los Angeles to Cleveland in the 1929 National Air Races. The pilot was Henry J. Brown (not a Register signer).
From March 12, 1930 to August 20, 1932, the airplane was owned by the Gilmore Oil Company. During this time is where we find Turner flying it. The airplane was repainted cream with red trim, and was fitted with a special compartment to house a male lion cub named "Gilmore," which the company and Turner used as a promotional adventure that has become part of Golden Age lore that you can easily explore with Google. Below, from Tim Kalina, is a great photograph of Roscoe, Gilmore and two Gilmore Oil aircraft (3057 at rear). The photo is captioned at lower left, "To Our Good Friend Carl [Squier, Register passenger]. Roscoe & Gilmore."
Roscoe Turner, the Lion Gilmore and Gilmore Aircraft, Ca. 1932 (Source: Kalina)
NR61Y, the other airplane in the foreground of this photo, is a Weddell-Williams Model 44 Racer flown by Turner. The link describes its history and the races won and placed by Turner while flying it. The airplane is still in existence.
With Gilmore, Turner flew 3057 to an east-west transcontinental speed record in May, 1930. Turner bought the airplane from Gilmore Oil August 20, 1932 and owned it until 1938. Gilmore the lion soon outgrew his compartment and was placed at a wildlife park to live out his life. It is rumored that Turner held his paw when he died some years later. Turner had Gilmore preserved, mounted and displayed at his home.
Below, again from Mr. Kalina, is a photograph of Turner in front of 3057 with an exhibit of all three major Golden Age air race trophies that he won. They are the Harmon Trophy (1932, center), Bendix Trophy (1933, left) and Thompson Trophy (three times in 1934, 1938 and 1939). It's curious that the Thompson is in this photo, because, if the photo date is accurate, he hadn't won it yet.
Roscoe Turner, NR3057 and Three Trophies, Dated December 18,1933 (Source: Kalina)
This photograph is dated December 18, 1933 and inscribed, "To my friend & Pal Carl Squier. Without your assistance it would never have been and I thank you for we made history." Mr. Kalina says about the image, "The photo of Turner with some of his many trophies ... shows the AE [Air Express] without any sponsor markings so I assume this was taken after the Gilmore sponsorship and maybe just before the 'Ring Free' markings were applied to the plane.
Below, from visitor Jeff Staines, is a photograph of NC3057 without pants. As I said above, I'm not sure if this is the Lockheed he brought through Tucson, but it's a good chance it was. Note the parasol wing and the single open cockpit characteristic of the Express model.
Roscoe Turner's Lockheed Air Express, NC/NR3057, Location Unknown, Ca. 1933 (Source: Staines)
After Gilmore (the oil company), Turner accepted sponsorship from MacMillan Motor Oil, whose "Ring Free" slogan was used in the rename of 3057 to the "Ring Free Express." Site visitor Roger Holden confirms that Turner was sponsored by Ring-Free in the years 1933-35 and the circular "Ring Free" logo on the fuselage matches that worn by his Wedell-Williams racer in 1933. Mr. Holden estimates that the photo above was taken ca. 1933, since later it had the Ring Free name in capital letters on the rear fuselage instead.
The airplane suffered an accident in 1935 at Cleveland, OH and was repaired. According to Allen, it was dismantled and the fuselage burned in 1940. According to the NASM record, the wing was sold to Paul Mantz for "movie work."
THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 04/06/12 REVISED: 10/11/12, 10/20/12, 09/25/13