Sunday, July 2, 2017

Scrapbook #2 – Glenn Martin’s Historical Flight

The next page of my grandfather’s scrapbook had a number of loose items.  A few things looked interesting (more on that in another post), but the photos of airplanes and ‘stories’ written by Sig caught my eye so I thought I’d try to put them together.  And that’s when I learned about Glenn Martin’s historical flight.from Fresno to Madera, California.

Fiftieth Anniversary of Power Flight page 1

“…..Along in 1912, he started on a barn-storming tour of the Pacific Coast fairs, etc.  He appeared at the Fresno District Fair in Fresno, California, in April of 1912.  With the permission of his newspaper, the Fresno Morning Republican, Mr. Sig Levy proposed to Mr. Martin that he try an aerial delivery of newspapers to the neighboring city of Madera, California, twenty-four miles distant.

The proposal was accepted and the great feat made aviation history on April 13, 1912.  This was a great day for the City of Madera and the people of that city, saw for the first time an airplane in the sky over the City of Madera.  And making further history, Madera was the first city in California to receive newspapers by aerial delivery – the time twenty-four miles in twenty-five minutes – a hundred Republican newspapers were dropped to the center of the city by parachute at an elevation of two thousand feet.  Following, on the same return flight to Fresno, came the longest glide in the history of aviation.  The plane, piloted by Mr. Martin, ran out of gas.  At an elevation of four thousand feet, Martin glided for three miles against a fifteen-mile head wind and made a miraculous landing at the Fresno fairgrounds.

This feat made history.  It was colossal.  The exciting news was carried by newspapers throughout the United States.  National Magazines have published feature stories on the event through the years….”

Here’s the highlights of the historical flight.

Historical Flight Highlights

I don’t know who wrote this but if it was not Sig, at least he’s mentioned here.  Can you believe it took 25 minutes to go 24 miles? 

I also found some photos, which look to be professional, with some information on each photo listed by photo number.  Unfortunately, most of the photos were not labeled so I had no way of knowing what was going on but there was one that I found interesting.

Old Number 12

“Old Number 12” was a pusher type airplane built by Martin in 1911 and used extensively in exhibition flying at county fairs.

Based on that description, I wonder if this was the plane (or at least one like it) that made the historic flight.

36 years later, the historic flight was celebrated and there, front and center, was my grandfather, Sig Levy.  There is no indication that Glenn Martin is in this photo.

Glenn Martin Flight 4_13_1912

And more information was included in the story Sig wrote above.

Mr. Martin returned to California and re-enacted the same flight to the City of Madera on October 28, 1948.  This time, he flew his new forty passenger Martin 202 plane carryng one thousand pounds of Fresno Bee Newspapers and a capacity load of civic officials.

The distance this time was made in five minutes flat.  The Glenn L. Martn Company continues to be one of the largest airplane factories in the world, building jets and gigantic placement jobs, the largest in aviation’s history, and the Martin bombers and other types of planes played a very important role in World War II, which brought victory to America. 

I wonder if Sig was on that flight?

Thinking that I’d seen something about this in my stash of photos and newspaper clippings, I took a quick look through a box and sure enough, I found this.

Martin Takeoff Memory 10_29_1948

I think there’s no doubt which one is Sig but I wondered what they were pointing at.  Sure enough, he had written on the back of the photo:

Levy points to where Martin took off in 1912 for his delivery of Fresno Republicans to the City of Madera.  Fresno County Fairgrounds.  Return visit to Fresno Oct 29 – 48.

While sometimes I can be frustrated with my ancestors for failing to label a photo, this time I LOVED Sig for telling me what was going on here. 

So for those of you who might live in Madera, the next time you pick up a newspaper you can thank Glenn L. Martin!


  1. Interesting. My father worked for Glenn L. Martin company in Baltimore from about 1948-1951.

    1. Maybe your father and my grandfather had an opportunity to meet each other. Was you father ever in Fresno?

  2. That is very interesting---we take for granted now how easily and quickly things are transported across the country. And here was the beginning of that ability!

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Not to mention it took 25 minutes to go 24 miles.