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Glenn Martin Aviation Museum Celebrates Anniversary of first flight

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Posted at 2:03 PM, Dec 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-16 17:44:49-05

Orville and Wilbur Wright took their first flight 113 years ago Saturday, and the Glenn Martin Aviation Museum wants to remind visitors of a forgotten aviator who changed the landscape of Middle River.

Back in 1910 (just 7 years after the Wright Brothers' first flight) Glenn Martin made his first flight in a plane very similar to the Wright brothers.

Martin grew up with a fascination with flight, designing and creating box kites and selling them when he was just 7-years-old.

As he got older, the closest industry to flight was automobiles, so he worked his way up to own dealerships in Santa Ana, California.

He started tinkering with plane models, using automobile parts. At the Glenn Martin Aviation Museum you can see the model of the first plane he created.

The plane had a steering wheel, like you'd see in a car, and three wheels, like a tricycle.

From there, Martin became a plane manufacturer. But where to build his business? He wanted to be close to D.C. making planes for the government, and he wanted to be near railroads to have easy access to supplies.

He first went to Baltimore, but the offer was too expensive.

So, thinking about his duck hunting days, he went to Middle River, which was farm land back then.

He bought the property, saying he was going to use it for hunting, and built a sports lodge. The majority of the land then turned into a huge plane manufacturing plant that employed hundreds of workers.

When the first World War broke out, the company produced thousands of planes, mostly bombers. 

"When you're watching TV, you see the PBMs, the sea planes that contributed to the effort in World War II, it's always exciting to know that that came out of Baltimore," Middle River resident Tony Bonome said.

The company stopped making planes in 1960. The company was sold, and joined with another company and then Lockheed in 1995. The company still works with aviation, creating missiles, space hardware, guidance systems, etc.

"We're trying to let people see that he [Martin] was the inspiration for all these other folks and the Wright Brothers inspired him," Debi Wyn, Director of Education and PR for the museum said.

Bonome said it's important also for people to come to learn about this history, because not only did Martin's company bring a huge economic boost to the area, but it gave people with a high school education high paying jobs.

"Now it requires a college education and a real good insight to technology if you want to make a decent living nowadays," Bonome said.

The aviation museum will be celebrating the anniversary of the Wright brothers' first flight Saturday. They have Glenn Martin's complete story, with insight into the company atmosphere. (Many say it was like a family working in that type of industry.)

They will be open 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. Adult entry is $3 and children are $1. The address is 701 Wilson Point Road, Middle River, 21220.