HISTORIAN'S CORNER - July 2003

BY: Matt Grogan

I've received several items in the mail over the past months that I thoughtI should share with everyone.

Vern Morris sent information from a web site for a Canadian Company calledFlying Tankers, Inc (martinmars.com). Flying Tankers, located near Port Albernion Vancouver Island in British Columbia, has been operating the last twoWWII Martin Mars flying boats as water bombers to fight forest fires forabout 40 years. Flying Tankers, Inc. was formed in 1959 by a consortium ofBC forest companies after a disastrous fire season and acquired the onlyremaining four Mars aircraft for $100,000 US. The US Navy had operated theaircraft during WWII as troop and cargo transports in the Pacific with greatsuccess. The Mars are big aircraft, with a 200 ft. wingspan and 165,000 lbmax loaded weight. The four aircraft were ferried to BC in 1959 and two werefitted with 6000 US gallon tanks with two retractable scoops built into thehull. These two aircraft were destroyed in 1961 and 1962 (fire fighting operationsand storm) but the remaining two aircraft (Philippine and Hawaii) were immediatelyconverted and have operated since 1963 delivering foam or water on forestfires where needed. Together they can deliver as much as 7200 gallon of suppressantevery seven minutes in sustained operations. Vern actually saw the aircrafton a trip to BC 15 years ago, and he followed up by finding the Flying Tankersweb site which has pictures, video, history and much more. (I found a secondweb site with data on the Mars aircraft as well as most all other aircraft(vectorsite.net/avcmast.htmi)). Thanks, Vern!

Ron Ritz sent me a copy of "Your job at Martin Denver", dated April 1956,from Bastrop, Texas. The booklet was given to him when he joined the companyin July 1956, and the Welcome Page was signed by A. L. Varneur, General Manager.In a section titled 'Transportation Between Facility Locations~, the officesdescribed were at 1845 Sherman Street, the Keith Building at 14th and Arapahoe,temporary manufacturing facilities at 1717 S. Acoma, St., and an EngineeringLab at 3595 S. Inca St. in Englewood. The next section makes note of the"plans for the new Martin plan now being constructed ... where wholesomefood will be provided on a non-profit basis7. In the Safety Section, ft advisesagainst walking under ladders! The cover of the book has an artist's drawingof the planned new Denver facilities (the Engineering and Manufacturing Buildings).Ron also included a letter that noted he was with a Treadway Bridge Companyin March 1945 that built a bridge across the Rhine between the towns of St.Goar and St. Goarhausen, after a strongly contested battle for the easternshore conducted by the 89th Division. Thanks, Ron!

Norma Emerson sent me the last item--the front page of the Elbert CountyNews dated March 13, 2003. The front page has an article titled, "Cold WarSecrets Surface" and is about the decommissioned Titan I Missile Complexlocated on the old Lowry Bombing Range beneath the Elbert County Compactor(landfill). According to the article, each year the county must assess thecondition of two wells that were part of the Complex and report to the U.S. Secretary of HEW. This year, John Dunn, who worked for Martin from 1956to 1972 and was a former Elbert County Commissioner, helped give the tourof the complex to county and municipal employees and elected officials. Accordingto the article, John watched three Titan I missiles rise from their silosin preparation for launch during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, and thenwatched with great relief as they were lowered back into their silos whenthe crisis was over. Thanks, Norma!