Marlboro County, SC Towns
Bennettsville History




Postcard and articles contributed by Victoria Proctor, ©2003

1911 - South Carolina's First Airplane?

South Carolina's First Airplane  2003

Text on postcard:

"Unless someone comes along with evidence to dispute it, this is a photograph of South Carolina's first airplane. It was purchased in 1911 for $1,000 by William MURCHISON of Dillon and F.E. Rowe and C.W. Dudley of Bennettsville. It was assembled in Hamer's pasture at Dillon on July 4 of that year. F.E. Rowe was the pilot. Note the three bicycle-type wheels on the bi-plane and the horses and buggies in the background.
(Photo published by courtesy of C.W. DUDLEY, Bennettsville, real estate dealer.)"


The Pee Dee Advocate, Bennettsville, SC,
V33, #21, Thur., Sept. 16, 1920, p. 1, c. 3


Lieutenants Runser and Turner, the aviators who spent some time here last winter, and who have had many interesting experiences since leaving here, arrived here again last Saturday. [September 11, 1920]

On acocunt of engine trouble, they were forced to land in D.K. McColl's cotton field, east of the city. They arose and landed again in an uncultivated area on J.O. Breeden and A.L. Breeden's Malpass place, south west of the city. They remained there Sunday and took several passengers to ride.

They have been flying over the county this week, distributing campaign literature and other advertisements.

Later they expect to drop over the county a special aviation edition of The Advocate.


The Pee Dee Advocate, Bennettsville, SC,
V33, #22, Thur., Sept. 23, 1920: p. 7, c. 1-3

Lieut. Turner Says Aviation Needs Support of the People

There has been some discussion relative to flying airplanes in Bennettsville and Marlboro county on Sundays. One of the ministers of Bennettsville told me in a conversation that it was not right and insinuated that it directly corrupted the morals of the people in the town.

This minister also went to the sheriff and tried to get him to put a stop to the Sunday flights, but without success. This has only happened in two places out of the dozens of towns we have visited in twenty-two states. There is no law to govern flying and personally I cannot see why there should be. It is only a means of transportation, such as many other vehicles are used for and I see no more harm in flying in an air ship than in riding in an automobile. Besides this is not the first time Bennettsville has been visited by a ship and I have never known of any objections being raised when here for several months during the first of the year.

The Aero Club of America is doing all it can to develop flying and unless the people co-operate and help the aviators this wonderful and useful machine cannot make the progress it has merited. We must remember what it has meant to our country's defense to have a strong air force and in order to maintain it the government and people will have to lend a helping hand.

The people are not convinced as yet that aviation is here to stay and will not invest their money in ships, considering them dangerous and very impractical. In order to convince them, the flyers will have to demonstrate the many advantages and teach the people to see the future of aviation. The flyers deserve much credit for the efforts they have put forth so far. The towns will not even prepare landing fields and almost all of the accidents that happen are caused by trying to use unprepared fields for landing and flying.

If the people will not give a landing field it means that there is a lack of interest. If this be true, it is natural that the flyers have a hard time getting a crowd to come out and see the ship demonstrated. They will come only when out riding and with nothing else to do. This is usually on Sunday and if the ships were not allowed to demonstrate and fly on Sundays they could not stay in business.

This being the case it is up to the citizens to either put an end to one of the greatest invention's progress or to look at it from a different view point and encourage and help the men that are willing to work for the advancement of aviation.

I realize fully that there are many dangers connected with flying under certain conditions and it is not my desire to antagonize anyone or to influence anyone to take any chances in any way. Neither do I want to keep the people away from church. I am a member of the church and try to attend services at least once every Sunday. In fact we seldom fly on Sundays until the afternoon and there are no services held during these hours in the churches.

This is to simply call your attention to some of the facts we must face and I ask for your kind and unbiased consideration in the matter. If I am wrong I want to right myself, but I can't see where I am doing any more harm than the people that use various other means of transportation, such as trains, boats and automobiles on the Sabbath day.

Respectfully yours,
Roscoe Turner, Aviator.


The Pee Dee Advocate, Bennettsville, SC,
V33, #22, Thur., Sept. 23, 1920: p. 7, c. 4-6


The Big British Plane of Runsuer and Turner will fly again on Sunday. The landing field will be the same as used on last Sunday. That is, the pasture on the farm of Mr. Covington, four miles from Bennettsville, on the Clio road.

The French Plane belonging to the Airplane Company at Dillon will also be on the field.

These ships will make flights in the afternoon and anyone wishing to take a safe trip through the air will have the opportunity to do so at this time.

Come and bring your wife, sweetheart or friend, and take a trip together. The Ships carry two passengers besides the pilot and are the Safest Flyers to be Bought.


The Pee Dee Advocate, Bennettsville, SC, V33, #23, Thur., Sept. 30, 1920: p. 1, c. 6


At the aviation field at W.J. Covington's Sunday [September 26, 1920], several contributed the money to pay for a ride for George Genes, and he went up with Lieut. Turner and Rogers Moore, and took a flight over Marlboro county, going over a mile high. Mr. Genes says that the plane butted up against a cloud and stopped still for some time, finally diving under the cloud. He says Pee Dee river looked like a yellow strip about as wide as his hand.

Oscar Grosch also went up Sunday and flew still higher than Mr. Genes. With him the plane shot through a cloud, and over and under it, and did various stunts nearly two miles up in the air.

Victoria Proctor

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