Saunders pushes to rename bridge honoring heroic Hoosier pilot

Posted by: Peter Hoffman  | Monday, February 29, 2016

STATEHOUSE (Feb. 29, 2016) – The Indiana House today unanimously passed a resolution, authored by State Rep. Tom Saunders (R-Lewisville), that would rename the bridge on Highway 52 over the Flatrock River in Rushville the “Joseph Cotton Bridge.”

Rushville native Joe Cotton, 94, was an aviation pioneer who dedicated his life to serving his country.

“I am honored to recognize such an admirable serviceman and Hoosier,” Saunders said. “It is appropriate that Joe’s name will live on forever in the place that he called home.”

Cotton began flying recreationally as a young man before channeling that passion in the direction of serving his country as a pilot in the Army Air Corps. During the Second World War, he was part of a bomber team that was downed over a small, German-controlled Mediterranean island. Cotton and his crew spent four months trying to find their way back to Allied Forces to rejoin their unit.

After the war, Cotton continued his service by going into research and development. He test piloted several experimental aircraft including the famous Valkyrie bomber. On one test flight of the Mach-3 aircraft, the landing gear would not deploy. Lacking a crash landing procedure, Cotton forced a short-circuit in the breaker with a paperclip that caused the landing gear to finally release, saving the U.S. government $750 million.

Over the course of his career Cotton received several commendations and recognitions, including the Air Medal and the Air Force Commendation Medal. He concluded his career in the private sector as a test pilot for United Airlines.

Saunders said the bridge will serve as a constant reminder of Cotton’s service to our country for all those who travel on it.


 Rep. Saunders (R-Lewisville) represents Henry County and portions of Rush and Wayne counties.