”Glenn L.” breaks records in 1912 over water and with mother

The Avenue News - - EDITORIAL - By: BLAINE TAY­LOR

At San Diego, CA in 1913, Glenn Luther Martin con­ducted what were the United States Army’s first ae­rial bom­bard­ment ex­per­i­ments, very se­cret at the time.

Noted later of­fi­cial Martin Com­pany sources, “There was no air arm of the Army at that time, so it was the Ord­nance De­part­ment that sent an of­fi­cer across the Con­ti­nent to see the ef­fects of Martin’s bombs.”

A hy­dro-air­plane ver­sion of the Model TT was “built in 1913 to carry four pas­sen­gers, built to the or­der of the firm Go­rat & King of Port­land, OR to serve as an ae­rial ferry across Goose Bay, Wash­ing­ton State,” con­tin­ues Glenn L. Martin, Pioneer Aviator, “The first bomb­ing ex­per­i­ments were con­ducted...early in 1918.” Martin had laid his plans to man­u­fac­ture the now-fa­mous Martin Bomber for the US gov­ern­ment.

The de­sign of this plane, that has been a gov­ern­ment stan­dard, laid the foun­da­tion for a series of bomb­ing and tor­pedo plane de­vel­op­ments for the US Navy De­part­ment in 1924, but that’s get­ting ahead of the chronol­ogy of our story a bit.

Ac­cord­ing to The Early Years in a back is­sue of The Star, the for­mer of­fi­cial pub­li­ca­tion of the later Martin Ma­ri­etta Cor­po­ra­tion then at Mid­dle River, MD, “The his­tory of our com­pany...dates back to the child­hood of Martin, who was born on Jan. 17, 1886 to Clarence and Ar­minta De Long Martin of Macks­burg, Iowa.”

At age six, it was said that Martin’s fas­ci­na­tion with the wind led him to de­velop an un­usual bi­plane kite. At 19 in 1905, Martin and his fam­ily moved to Santa Ana, CA, where, hav­ing worked in a bi­cy­cle shop and a garage in high school, he opened a garage of his own and a car deal­er­ship.

A few years later, Martin be­gan build­ing his first air­plane in the old South­ern Methodist Church in Santa Ana that pro­vided a large un­ob­structed floor space on which to work.

On Aug. 1, 1909, the plane was ready to go...and it did. At the crack of dawn, Martin cranked up the 12 horse­power Ford engine and the craft lifted into the air, fly­ing about 100 feet.

To drum up in­ter­est in air­planes, Martin per­formed nu­mer­ous stunts for fair-go­ing crowds. Thou­sands of ea­ger peo­ple, in­clud­ing movie stars, paid to fly in the new con­trap­tion.

As a young boy, and un­til the very end of her life, Glenn Martin was es­pe­cially close to his mother, who be­lieved in and en­cour­aged him through­out his en­tire avi­a­tion ca­reer, from start to near fin­ish.

Stated au­thor Jack Church­man in To Cap­ture the Wind in a spe­cial is­sue of Man­u­fac­tur­ing Ob­server, “Minta---know­ing that Glenn pos­sessed this spe­cial drive---coached him in all of his school work, be­com­ing es­sen­tially his pri­vate tu­tor. She was de­ter­mined to share in his thoughts, and to en­cour­age him in his strong­est de­sire: to learn more about the things that moved with the wind...”

He took a job in a Salina garage, and in a very short pe­riod was con­sid­ered the best me­chanic in town. With a sav­ings of $700 and a loan from a bank, Glenn de­cided to es­tab­lish his own garage and au­to­mo­bile agency.

He pro­cured a fran­chise for the Ford and Maxwell cars, and was in busi­ness for him­self at age 21.

His first plane was a com­plete loss af­ter it lit­er­ally chased Glenn around in a cow pas­ture where he was mak­ing a ground test run.

The engine stalled at the end of the field, and Glenn, with­out the help of the me­chanic, pro­ceeded to restart the engine. In his at­tempt, the throt­tle was pushed to the open po­si­tion and a run­away air­plane re­sulted.

He was pulled all around the field, and the plane lit­er­ally de­mol­ished it­self. Glenn re­ceived only mi­nor in­juries, but his pride was crushed. How­ever, Glenn soon started on his next air­plane.

Here, Minta and Glenn worked as an in­sep­a­ra­ble team to com­plete the project that had failed so mis­er­ably on the first at­tempt.

When the craft was ready to roll out, the church doors had to be re­moved so as to per­mit ad­e­quate clear­ance for the air­plane’s 40foot wing­span.

He flew his own air­plane a dis­tance of 100 feet at an al­ti­tude of eight feet. He had suc­ceeded!

Glenn in­sti­tuted a grand barn­storm­ing tour in hopes of rais­ing his own money, putting on ex­hi­bi­tions through­out the coun­try, at­tend­ing ev­ery af­fair that would book his acts.

His ven­ture proved to be re­ward­ing, and his bank ac­count soon started to grow and be­cause of these per­sonal ap­pear­ances, he be­came well known through­out the na­tion as a leader in the man­u­fac­ture of pri­vate air­craft.

Or­ders started com­ing in at such a rate that the can­ning fac­tory soon proved to be short of space. In 1912, a move was made to Grif­fith Park in the Los An­ge­les area.

Here he was able to han­dle the in­crease in busi­ness with­out the crowded con­di­tions that were be­ing ex­pe­ri­enced at the Santa Ana plant.

With the in­crease in busi­ness came an­other in em­ploy­ment. Glenn, real­iz­ing the need for as­sis­tance in man­ag­ing the pro­duc­tion ac­tiv­i­ties, hired Lawrence Bell (later to head his own air­craft com­pany), as shop fore­man.

On May 10, 1912, Glenn set a world record, when he flew his hy­dro-plane from New­port Bay in Bal­boa, CA to Avalon Bay, Catalina Is­land, a dis­tance of 66 miles in 80 min­utes of fly­ing time.

He’d made the world’s long­est overwater flight at that time. Glenn added still an­other first dur­ing that year 1912, he car­ried his first pas­sen­ger aloft- Minta Martin, his mother.

GLM MD Avi­a­tion Mu­seum co-founder Stan Piet as I first knew him in 1989, on Karen Drive; Kingsville, MD. To­day, he re­mains as its cu­ra­tor-ar­chiv­ist. (Pre­vi­ously un­pub­lished photo by Blaine Tay­lor.)

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