Reporting Alex DeMetrick
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — One hundred is a big birthday and it’s being celebrated Monday by the company that invented the airplane industry in Maryland.
Alex DeMetrick reports 1912 is when Glenn L. Martin improved his first plane.
It was originally called the Curtis Pusher and a century ago, 26-year-old Glenn L. Martin bought it, took it apart and rebuilt a better plane. A replica was flown to the Lockheed Martin facility in Middle River from Virginia. For pilots trained in modern aircraft, it was an eye-opener.
“My respect for the early aviators shot way, way up. Has become incredible since I’ve been flying this plane,” said pilot Boom Powell.
A hundred years later, the plane and Martin’s role in aviation in Maryland were celebrated.
“The innovation that he brought was critically important to America’s development,” said Senator Ben Cardin.
At its peak during World War II, this facility employed over 50,000 workers.
“It was a pleasure and a privilege to work for him,” said former Martin employee Harry Mettee.
Mettee was hired in 1940. During the next five years, Middle River would build B-26 Martin Marauder Bombers 24 hours a day, year round. Brought in as a quality control inspector, he met with Martin his first day.
“He said to us, `Remember the men who are flying these planes. We want to be certain the products are right,’” Mettee said.
“It went from the drawing board to the first airplane in two years. Over 5,000 of them were built. There were no prototypes,” said Lockheed Martin executive Dale Bennett.
“He knew people in the factory. He walked around. He would think ahead,” Mettee said.
Like the Lockheed brothers, whose company would eventually merge with Martin’s in 1995.
Lockheed Martin remains very much a Maryland player. The company’s headquartered in Bethesda.