Reginald Turnill 1915-2013
BY STEVEN YOUNG
Posted: 12 February 2013
We are sad to report that Reginald Turnill passed away this morning. He would have been 98 in May.
Reg was the BBC aerospace correspondent at the dawn of the space age and and raced between Moscow and Cape Canaveral to cover the first spaceflights of Yuri Gagarin, Alan Shepard, Gherman Titov and John Glenn. From then on he commuted between London, Cape Canaveral and Houston to cover every manned American spaceflight, right through the moon landings, and on to the Shuttle flights when they took over in 1981. He officially "retired" from the BBC in 1975, but he continued to cover the space programme for John Craven's Newsround and many space enthusiasts grew up watching him.
Reg was a great friend to Astronomy Now and helped save the magazine during its darkest hour. He was a regular visitor to AstroFest and spoke at the conference twice. Most recently, he joined Patrick Moore and Garry Hunt on the stage to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11.
Reg also wrote for our sister publication Spaceflight Now. In 2000 he created a "retrocast" of the Apollo 13 mission to mark the 30th anniversary of the ill-fated Moon shot.
Reg's reporting career started on Fleet Street aged 15. By the 1930s, he was at the Press Association and would frequently take phone calls from Churchill to make advance copies of his speeches in shorthand.
He was still sharp and active until close to the end. He wrote Astronomy Now's tribute to Neil Armstrong in our October issue. He delighted in being able to say he was the world's oldest working space correspondent. When John Glenn, then 77, made his second spaceflight in November 1998, he told Reg at the post-landing news conference: "I admire you for still working and I hope I'm still working when I'm 83".
The Universe under one roof. European AstroFest returns to London on February 7 & 8, 2014. The UK's favourite astronomy conference and exhibition. Visit the official website site for more details.
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