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Martin Monoplane Glider
 
Martin-MonGL-01
 
The William H. Martin monoplane was the first of its type in the world, and made many successful flights when towed by a horse or a Ford car. The inventor knew his aerodynamics, and his plane embodied principles of safety that have been generally adopted in plane construction.
 
On January 12, 1909, snow covered the fields back of the Martin farm, Canton, Ohio, and the device was hauled out and taken to the top of a hill. Old Billy, the farm horse, was hitched to the front of the plane by a long rope. Mr. Martin took his seat in the plane, son George whistled to Billy. The horse started down the hill pulling the plane behind him. It rose from the ground, reached a height of 25 feet and traveled 200 feet before the horse slackened its pace and the plane settled gently back to earth.
 
Martin-MonGL-02
 
Mrs. Martin then took her seat in the plane and made several successful flights, being the first woman ever to fly in a heavier than air machine. Another son, Charles C. Martin, also went up and said that it came down like a feather. When he shut his eyes, he didn't know when it struck snow.
 
Mr. Martin's experiments had been kept secret, but the trial flights could not be hidden. Neighbors flocked to the field to see for the first time in their lives a human being sustained in the air by a heavier than air machine. Cousin Glenn L. Martin had not yet built the first plane in California.
 
A photographer came out to take pictures of the flights but became so excited that he failed to operate his photographic apparatus properly and all the plates were ruined!
 
During successive days more than 100 flights were made. All the members of the family, including the pet dog enjoyed the novel experience. One day one of the sled runners struck a bare spot on the ground and swerved the plane against a fence, damaging it slightly. The flights were suspended for a time.
 
William H. Martin had his eye on more than the local scene and wanted to get his plane demonstrated in the East, but was handicapped by lack of funds. William A. Hoberdier, who, with his brother, L.A. Hoberdier operated Lyric Amusement Co. of Canton, is credited with having helped finance trips to New York in the Spring of 1909.
 
Another milestone was established September 21, 1909, when Mr. Martin's eight-year-old granddaughter, Blanche Martin, made several solo flights in the machine, thus demonstrating its safety. Her hops were 75 feet in length, and it was the first time a child of such age had ever taken to the air in a "heavier than air" machine.
 
Mr. Martin sought to obtain a motor for his plane and wrote to F.S. Lahm, noted Canton balloonist, then living in Paris. In a letter from Paris, dated March 15, 1909, Mr. Lahm told him that the only successful motor then on the market was exorbitantly priced and advised that a smaller one was to be produced soon. Some used motors were obtainable, but were unreliable.
 
Twenty years after the plane was built, patented and successfully flown, Mr. Martin offered it to the Smithsonian Institution. After long and careful investigation the Smithsonian institution accepted it as being the first plane of its type, and put it on display next to Lindbergh's "Spirit of St. Louis."
 
In 1936 Dennis R. Smith, when returning from a marble tournament, stopped in at the Smithsonian Institution and saw the Martin plane on display beside Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis.
 
When he returned to Canton he met William H. Martin on the street and reported seeing his plane at the Smithsonian. Mr. Martin, then an old man of 81, with long white whiskers, and gentle and quiet spoken in manner, had the happiest moment of his life when he knew that his contributions to air pioneering had been memorialized by the preservation of his machine. His patent had run out in 1926, and he took additional satisfaction in knowing that the invention which he had patented was free for the use of all mankind.
 
When Harry Renkert organized the Canton Aviation Co. in 1938, and acquired the land for the airport, he named it Martin Field in honor of William H. Martin, whose farm adjoined the field.
 
 
 
 


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