The Continuity of Flight; the Martin Mars

Builders,

Part of the reason why I am attracted to the classic parts of aviation instead of the Popular Science New and exciting and will never happen! BS stories is because much of modern consumer aviation has no soul, it is just junk that has no connection to the timeless traditions and values of flight. Here is a good example of how something classic in flight can thread its way through time.

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Above: Martin Mars, flying down the runway at Oshkosh 2016. This photo was actually taken by Grace with her cell phone. If you were there, you will understand the use of adjectives like Spellbinding and Majestic. I have been to Oshkosh 25 times, and I can’t remember anything that compared with this.  I don’t know what specific thought the flight brought to mind in the other people watching, but for me, it brought thoughts of one old photo from the family album….

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Above, Martin Mars, August 1st 1945, moored at the US Naval Academy. The two people on the right are my Grandparents, they were there to visit my Father. Dad had enlisted in the Navy at 17 in 1943, but they opened the entrance exams for the class of ’49 to any enlisted man in the fleet. He entered Annapolis late in the spring of ’45, when the war was still raging in the Pacific. Look at my Grandfather’s face, as this was likely the happiest day of his life. As a veteran of savage trench fighting in WWI, his real wish in life was that his only son, my father, would not have the same experience. To him, dad getting into the Naval Academy mean he would survive the war, and my grandfather was quietly happy with this. If you were to read a single story I have written, make it this one: A clarification and a century old story. It explains the bond between my father and grandfather, and why I am not judgmental about the motivations of others. My grandfathers quiet joy didn’t last, as my father went to both Korea and Vietnam.  My Grandfather was a hard man, who feared very little in life, but if you would like to understand the full measure of human toughness, you can read this story about my Grandmother: Italo Balbo in 1933, an 83 year old family story.

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Martin only made seven Mars flying boats. They were named after island groups. The plane at Oshkosh was originally the “Hawaii Mars” in Navy service. I originally thought there was a 1 in 7 chance it was the same one in the picture with my Grandparents, but it isn’t. The one in the 1945 picture was the original “Hawaii Mars”, but it was actually destroyed in a crash just 5 days after the photo. It was replaced with the “Hawaii Mars II” which was the plane at Oshkosh.

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In 1953 my father returned from his second deployment to Korea by flying across the pacific on a Mars. They made several stops on the long trip, including one in the middle of the night at Wake Island. Some of the passengers wanted the O club to open while the plane was being refueled. One of them decided to cool off by diving into the pool. He didn’t see that it was empty. This is referenced in the second paragraph of my father’s story Patriotism has no Party.

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-ww.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

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Made in USA : .45-70 at 143 years old

Builders,

Today was a working day here in the cradle of Corvairs. Vern and I were working in my hangar, Corvair/Panther builder Paul Salter was tuning up his Panther for the next flight, Dan Weseman met some builders in town at the SPA/Panther factory, and Brent Mayo’s Flying 3,000 cc Panther flew in to our airport, as he now has about 60 hours on the plane.

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In the late afternoon, we took a short break to do a little shooting in my back yard. My neighbor Wes stopped by with a brand new classic, chambered in one of the worlds oldest cartridges,  .45-70 . As a continuation of my appreciation of great American made mechanical devices and tools, let’s have a quick look.

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Above, a .22LR next to a .45-70, with a standard business card for sizing.  The cartridge is beyond a classic, it is something of a legend. It was first made in 1873, when Ulysses S. Grant was President. 143 years later, it is still in production.  Just like your 50 year old Corvair engine, the modern .45-70  which is dimensionally and functionally the same round that Custer’s men used at the Battle of Little Big Horn, has been the subject of carefully engineered improvements on the original design.

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Many people only care about “new and exciting!” but it has been my long observation that far more people are served in aviation by old and proven designs, particularly ones they can learn about and fully understand. It has been my experience that people operating aircraft they don’t understand doesn’t always end well.

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Above, a 6 second video of my neighbor Richard showing what 2,400 ft/lbs. of energy into a gallon jug of water looks like.

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Above, Corvair/Panther builder Paul Salter (Read about the first flight of his Panther here: http://flywithspa.com/there-were-10/) Demonstrates what a master’s degree in Aerodynamics and physics, combined with incredibly good eyesight, results in: a first shot bulls eye. It was just 25 yards, but he had never picked up the rifle before, he shot it off hand, and he lined up the iron sights for about 1 second. The rifle is a 16″ barrel guide gun, and this may be very close to the limits of accuracy for the combination.

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Above, a beautiful made in USA Marlin lever action, brand new, a 2016 model, but essentially unchanged from their 1895 design.  For scale, on the left is a Corvair hydraulic lifter, beside it is a .45-70 case, next over is a S&W 500 Magnum….the dinky brass all the way on the left is a 9mm. The Niagara oil cooler pictured is arguably the best oil cooler on the market, and it is made 15 miles from where your Corvair engine was made in Tonawanda NY.

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In the consumer era, people’s attention is directed to a continuously changing series of “high tech” and “what’s new!” appliances, that here big news today, and gone tomorrow, making up new strata in landfills, their “no user serviceable parts inside” stickers never to see daylight again, keeping used diapers and copies of people magazine featuring stories of the Kardashians company for the next century or so.

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You can spend your hours on that hamster wheel, blindly expecting something good to come around, or you can make the willful choice to steer your life toward real machines, tools engines,  things with real and lasting value which provide actual quality to the hours spent with them. I have found much greater happiness by choosing to spend my creative hours working with such machines. The work of my life, developing and sharing the Corvair flight engine, has all been done with my life long appreciation for the great designers, craftsmen, and machines that all bore the title, American. 

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Ironically, none of my friends from abroad have had an issue with my focus, because they understand I fully expect them to be champions of the works of their own homelands, but I have been called everything from a troglodyte to a xenophobe by fellow countrymen who have somehow come to the conclusion that pride in the products and creative people of the United States is an embarrassing social blunder. I do not mean to offend such people, but I am not going to stop expressing my gratitude for the country I live in, which was provided by the lifetime work of millions of good people. The only thanks I can offer them is to offer a grateful remembrance of their efforts and to emulate their simple decency they brought to everyday life.

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-ww..

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