Flightglobal’s Hyperbola column is sad to report that veteran BBC spaceflight correspondent Reg Turnill has died at the age of 97 on 12 February 2013. Recruited initially from the Press Association to cover industrial news, Turnill became the BBC air and space correspondent in 1958 after reporting the launch of Sputnik the year before. In this role he covered most of the key US and Russian manned space missions thoughout the 1960s and 1970s including the Apollo 11 moonlanding live from mission control in Houston. As the last reporter in mission control in the evening, it was also Turnill who initially broke the story of Apollo 13′s in-space explosion to the world.
Turnill was on first name terms with many of the Gemini and Apollo astronauts, and had a friendly relationship with the rocket genius Wernher Von Braun well, though he later gave his view that Von Braun should really have been hung given his war record. As a young British Army non-commissioned officer conquering Nazi Germany in 1945, Turnill had witnessed first hand the terrible conditions of the slave labourers being used to construct Von Braun’s V2 (A4) ballistic missiles
In semi-retirement, Turnill covered manned spaceflight including Skylab missions and the Apollo Soyuz link up for British schoolchildren on the BBC TV’s Newsround programme. Turnill wrote many books on the space programme including the seminal Observer’s Book of Manned Spaceflight and he also edited the Jane’s Spaceflight Directory. In later life, he was often to be seen, along with his nonagenarian wife Margaret, attending various space conferences and lectures, and even lecturing himself. We give our salute to Reg and give our condolences to his wife, family and friends.