John F. “Jack” McGee

John F. “Jack” McGee

John F. “Jack” McGee (1885 -1918), an aviation pioneer, was born in 1885 in Central Falls, but spent most of his life in Pawtucket.  He made his first solo flight in August 1912, and by the end of the year had made a name for himself as an exhibition stunt pilot. Crowds as large as 50,000 people gathered to watch him perform his “dip of death” and other stunts. During the winters he went to Florida and entertained crowds from Palm Beach to St. Petersburg. In 1913, he made front-page headlines by racing an express train from Boston to New York. He was Rhode Island’s most famous early aviator.

At the height of his flying career  McGee was big news in Rhode Island. Hardly a week went by without his name appearing in front page headlines.  As a sad postscript in the “What might have been” category, McGee was the first American to request the entry papers for the British Aero Club’s $50,000 prize to be awarded to the first person to fly across the Atlantic.  World War I intervened, and in 1917, McGee went to work as a test pilot for the Gallaudet Aircraft Corp. He also trained Army aviators to fly at the Gallaudet Training School in Potowomut. On June 11, 1918, lost his life in a crash of one of the seaplanes he was testing.

Induction was accepted by Barbara McGee Turgeon, Jack McGee’s nephew.

  • More in 2003:

  • More in Aviation Pioneers (pre-1930):

    • The Allen Family of Aeronauts

      The Allen Family of Aeronauts: according to New York-based aeronautical researcher Chris Lynch, “If there was a founding family of RI aviation, they are it.”

    • James & Ezra Allen

      Barrington natives James Allen (1824-1897) and his younger brother Ezra Allen (1840 – 1902) distinguished themselves through a lifelong commitment to aeronautics in the 19th century.

    • George ArmitageGeorge Armitage
  • More in Impressive Firsts:

  • More in RIAHOF Inductee:

    • The Allen Family of Aeronauts

      The Allen Family of Aeronauts: according to New York-based aeronautical researcher Chris Lynch, “If there was a founding family of RI aviation, they are it.”

    • James & Ezra Allen

      Barrington natives James Allen (1824-1897) and his younger brother Ezra Allen (1840 – 1902) distinguished themselves through a lifelong commitment to aeronautics in the 19th century.

    • MG Bill Anders, USAF (Ret)
  • Find this interesting? Share it!

    Help Us Continue to Honor RI's Aviation History.

    Please consider a tax-deductible gift to help support our efforts.