GLENN L. MARTIN CO.
Giant of Aviation History
-- and His Legendary Company --
Commemorated by the Famous Company
That Carries His Name Today.
August, 16, 2012:
On the 100th Anniversary of the founding of the Glenn L. Martin Company in Santa Ana, California -- that company's successor Lockheed-Martin Corp., a leading U.S. aerospace manufacturer -- celebrated the achievements of this Kansas-bred giant of world aerospace history -- and his company, still a vital force in aviation a century later.
Martin was one of America's three main aircraft manufacturers at the dawn of aviation -- chief rival to America's aviation industry founders, the Wright brothers (though one was a personal friend) and Glenn Curtiss.
Of the three great names, only Martin's would remain in aircraft manufacturing for a century. And only Martin would personally command his company until the 1950s, building airliners, jets and missiles. And only Martin would count among his workers the founders of most of the major American aircraft manufacturers of the 20th Century.
Glenn L. Martin,
while just a small Kansas kid -- inspired by Kansas skies, winds and waterfowl -- became obsessed with flight, Living in Liberal, while just a boy, Martin began his legendary aviation-manufacturing career in 1892, at the age of 6 -- by designing, building and selling exceptional kites, which soared unusually high in the Kansas wind, capturing the imaginations -- and nickels -- of all the local kids.
As a teen, Martin moved to Salina, Ks., but kept alive his fascination with flight. To further his maturing aviation ambition, Martin studied mechanics while in Salina High School, worked in a Salina bicycle/auto shop, and studied business at Salina's Kansas Wesleyan University. These twin Kansas educations -- mechanical and business -- would give him an advantage over other early aviation entrepreneurs who lacked expertise in one or the other.
Moving to Santa Ana, California, he learned to fly, and built his first plane -- the first of thousands. Far outlasting his only original rivals -- the Wright brothers and Glenn Curtiss -- Martin's superior designs soon took the lead in U.S. military aviation.
The founders of most of America's major plane-makers of the 20th Century --
-- all began their aviation careers as Martin's students or apprentices. In fact, the first Boeing airplane was a modified Martin floatplane.
- North American (later Rockwell),
- Vought (later General Dynamics), and
- Bell Aircraft (later Bell Helicopter)
The giant Martin flying boats became the worlds' most successful line.
Martin B-26 Marauder bombers -- among the fastest of World War II -- had the highest survival rate of any U.S. bomber. Martin also built Boeing B-29 Stratofortress bombers, under license, for Boeing -- including the fleet of nuclear bombers which dropped the first nuclear bombs.
After the war -- still in command of his company, a generation after the Wrights and Curtiss had lost control of theirs -- Martin joined the intense postwar airliner competition, with the Martin 2-0-2 and 4-0-4 twin-engine medium airliners (flown by several airlines, particularly Kansas City-based TWA). By the time Martin retired in 1952, he'd guided his company into jet aircraft and missiles.
From World War I to modern times, Martin's company developed many of America's trend-setting military airplanes, rockets, missiles and even spacecraft.
Ultimately, Martin's company joined Marietta Corp, in Marietta, GA (near Atlanta) to become Martin-Marietta Corp., and in 1995 the business joined Lockheed Corp. (also founded in 1912) to become Lockheed-Martin, today one of the United States' 3 largest aircraft-and-spacecraft manufacturers.
The Lockheed-Martin Centennial commemoration will continue through the summer of 2013, during which time the company will highlight 100 stories from its history, host events for employees and customers, and conduct 100 community service projects.
For more information, see the company's Martin history website:
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FOR MORE INFORMATION,
Kansas Aviation Centennial Committee
Richard Harris, Chariman,