Get a glimpse of vintage aircraft and learn about the history of aviation at the Glenn L. Martin Maryland Aviation Museum in Middle River, just 45 minutes from APG North (Aberdeen).
The museum, founded in 1990, features more than a dozen aircraft and tells the story of aviation pioneer Glenn L. Martin, originally from Iowa, who founded his own aircraft company in 1912. In 1928, he moved the Glenn L. Martin Company to Middle River, bringing hundreds of jobs to Baltimore County.
From 1928 to 1961, the company produced aircraft for the U.S. military and its allies, especially during World War II and the Cold War. The company is also significant, because it is a predecessor to Lockheed Martin, one of the world’s largest defense contractors, based in Bethesda, Maryland.
“He is considered the father of aviation in the twentieth century because [William] Boeing and a lot of the guys that went on to form their own [aviation] companies worked here with him,” said Debi Wynn, an education and special events officer with the Glenn L. Martin Maryland Aviation Museum.
One of the museum’s exhibits pays tribute to employees of the Glenn L. Martin Company, called “Martineers” during World War II. The exhibit explores the lives of these employees and the housing communities that were established for them and their families, like “Aero Acres,” which still exists today. Occasionally, Wynn said, visitors will spot themselves or family members in one of the many photos displayed in the exhibit.
Wynn said during World War II, 18 women were employed by the company, and were later referred to as “Rosie the Riveters.”
“Martin, according to our records, was the first to hire women to work on an assembly line during World War II, doing a man’s job.” Wynn said. “He hired them before [the attack on] Pearl Harbor in August of 1941.”
According to Wynn, these women were trailblazers, eager to serve their country on the homefront. The museum, Wynn said, is dedicated to sharing their story.
“They didn’t give it a second thought to come to work. They wanted to support the war effort,” she said. “They all knew or related to somebody that was off fighting the war.”
A big draw to the museum, Wynn said, is its collection of more than a dozen aircraft. The static displays include two planes that were built by the Glenn L. Martin Company, the Martin 4-0-4 Skyliner passenger plane, the first truly “modern” airliner with a pressurized cabin, produced from 1951 to 1953; and the Martin B-57 Canberra, a tactical bomber, that entered service with the U.S. Air Force in 1953.
Wynn said another popular aircraft in the collection is the Bell UH-1 Iroquois, known unofficially as the “Huey,” a helicopter developed by Bell Helicopter for the U.S. Army in 1952, for medical evacuation and general utility purposes. More than 7,000 of these helicopters were in service during the Vietnam War. A version of this helicopter is used by the military today.
During “Open Cockpit Days,” visitors have the opportunity to sit in the pilot seats in many of the museum’s aircraft. The next “Open Cockpit Days” are set fore July 8 and Aug. 12 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Admission for this event is $5 for adults and $1 for children. In the event of rain, Open Cockpit Day will be canceled.
The museum also hosts a free monthly aviation speaker series on Monday evenings. On July 10, at 7 p.m., military historian Jerome Beser, of the Beser Foundation, will give a presentation about the B-29 missions of his father, Jacob Beser, from Baltimore, who served during World War II as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Forces. He was the only person to serve as a strike crew member on both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombing missions in 1945. The speaker series is held at the Lockheed Martin Auditorium 2323 Eastern Blvd. in Middle River.
Wynn said about 70 people from the community volunteer at the museum, including a group that is dedicated to restoring and preserving airplanes and other historic artifacts. Many are retired military veterans, she added.
“They have a passion, a commitment to keeping this museum going,” she said.
The Glenn L. Martin Maryland Aviation Museum is located at the Martin State Airport Hangar 5, Suite 531, 701 Wilson Point Road. The museum is open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Admission is $3 for adults; $1 for children ages 6 to 12 years old; free for children ages 5 and under. For more information call 410-682-6122 or https://www.mdairmuseum.org.