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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Glenn Martin's Historic Flight to Catalina

October 04, 2003

In "Seemingly Fearless Aviation Pioneer Was a Mama's Boy at Heart" (Sept. 28), Cecilia Rasmussen wrote about the lifelong, close relationship Glenn L. Martin had with his mother. In my book, "Charles Hillinger's Channel Islands," I wrote the following, regarding Martin's historic flight to Catalina Island:

"Just as he was about to take off from Newport Harbor in his flimsy flying machine, his mother, Mrs. Minta DeLong Martin, noticed one of the struts needed fixing.

" 'Wait a minute, Glenn,' she called to her son. 'I'll take a stitch in that thing. And while I'm doing it, you get home and put on your good suit. If you crack up in that ship I want you looking your best.'

"He followed his mother's suggestion and returned later in a new suit of clothes. While he was gone his mother took several stitches with heavy silk thread in the wobbly strut, reinforcing it with hairpins.

"There was an amusing sidelight subsequent to the first flight to the island. Dr. H.H. Sutherland, the Martin family physician, wrote Mrs. Martin after the flight: 'For heaven's sake, if you have any influence with that wide-eyed, hallucinated, visionary young man, call him off before he is killed.'

"What did Mrs. Martin do? She promptly went up in one of her son's homemade planes of wood, wire and tape, with her legs dangling in the air during the flight."

Charles Hillinger

Rancho Palos Verdes

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