HRD mourns retired hurricane hunter pilot Dave Turner

David Lindsay Turner, 91, passed away 26 June in Jacksonville, FL.  Dave flew into hurricanes with the U. S. Navy’s VW-4 Hurricane Hunter Squadron.  After leaving the Navy in 1969, Dave joined NOAA in Miami as a civilian hurricane pilot , and flew until his retirement in 1993.  He holds the record for the most flights into hurricanes by any pilot in the world. Notable missions which Dave piloted include a a rough flight into rapidly intensifying Category-5 Hurricane Edith off the coast of Nicaragua in 1971 and the record-breaking flight into Hurricane Gilbert in 1988 that measured a central pressure of 888 mb.  He piloted the first NOAA P3 flight in 1975 for its delivery to Miami.  Dave discussed some of these flights in an episode of PBS’s Nova, which you can see here.

Dave posing in front of one of the NOAA P3 aircraft.
Dave posing in front of one of the NOAA P3 aircraft. (NOAA)

He was born in Oakland, California in 1923 to Scottish immigrant parents, and he and his brother Ian G. Turner spent their early school years in Edinburgh, Scotland but eventually graduated from Piedmont High, California.  He enlisted as a Naval Aviator during World War II, interrupting his studies at the University of California, Berkeley, until after the war.  While finishing at Cal, he and his brother Ian both went on to win Olympic Gold Medals for Rowing as part of the Cal Crew 8 at the 1948 London Games. He was a dedicated athlete all his life.

Dave, flying in Hurricane Gilbert
Dave, flying in Hurricane Gilbert (NOVA)

Dave returned to the Navy in 1952 and served in Korea and Vietnam. As a Naval officer, he and his family were stationed throughout the US until he retired from the Navy in 1969 as a Lt Commander.

He was predeceased by his first wife, Dorothy Easson Turner of Oakland, CA, and his second wife, Ethel Inez Brown Turner of Ocala, FL, and his brother Ian G. Turner. He is survived by his daughters Eleanore (Wayne) Hewitt of Encinitas, CA, and Polly (Mike) Casey from Orange Park, FL, and grandsons David and Robert Hewitt, and Stephen and Matthew Casey.  He is also survived by his step-children Dianne Brown Watson of Ocala, FL, Charles Brown (CA), Alton Brown (AL) and Allen Brown (FL)
David Turner will receive a Navy burial at sea with full Military honors at a later date. He will be dearly missed.