HISTORIAN'S CORNER - July 2003
BY: Matt Grogan
I've received several items in the mail over the past months that I thought
I should share with everyone.
Vern Morris sent information from a web site for a Canadian Company called
Flying Tankers, Inc (martinmars.com). Flying Tankers, located near Port Alberni
on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, has been operating the last two
WWII Martin Mars flying boats as water bombers to fight forest fires for
about 40 years. Flying Tankers, Inc. was formed in 1959 by a consortium of
BC forest companies after a disastrous fire season and acquired the only
remaining four Mars aircraft for $100,000 US. The US Navy had operated the
aircraft during WWII as troop and cargo transports in the Pacific with great
success. The Mars are big aircraft, with a 200 ft. wingspan and 165,000 lb
max loaded weight. The four aircraft were ferried to BC in 1959 and two were
fitted with 6000 US gallon tanks with two retractable scoops built into the
hull. These two aircraft were destroyed in 1961 and 1962 (fire fighting operations
and storm) but the remaining two aircraft (Philippine and Hawaii) were immediately
converted and have operated since 1963 delivering foam or water on forest
fires where needed. Together they can deliver as much as 7200 gallon of suppressant
every seven minutes in sustained operations. Vern actually saw the aircraft
on a trip to BC 15 years ago, and he followed up by finding the Flying Tankers
web site which has pictures, video, history and much more. (I found a second
web 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 company
in July 1956, and the Welcome Page was signed by A. L. Varneur, General Manager.
In a section titled 'Transportation Between Facility Locations~, the offices
described were at 1845 Sherman Street, the Keith Building at 14th and Arapahoe,
temporary manufacturing facilities at 1717 S. Acoma, St., and an Engineering
Lab at 3595 S. Inca St. in Englewood. The next section makes note of the
"plans for the new Martin plan now being constructed ... where wholesome
food will be provided on a non-profit basis7. In the Safety Section, ft advises
against walking under ladders! The cover of the book has an artist's drawing
of the planned new Denver facilities (the Engineering and Manufacturing Buildings).
Ron also included a letter that noted he was with a Treadway Bridge Company
in 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 eastern
shore conducted by the 89th Division. Thanks, Ron!
Norma Emerson sent me the last item--the front page of the Elbert County
News dated March 13, 2003. The front page has an article titled, "Cold War
Secrets Surface" and is about the decommissioned Titan I Missile Complex
located on the old Lowry Bombing Range beneath the Elbert County Compactor
(landfill). According to the article, each year the county must assess the
condition 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 1956
to 1972 and was a former Elbert County Commissioner, helped give the tour
of the complex to county and municipal employees and elected officials. According
to the article, John watched three Titan I missiles rise from their silos
in preparation for launch during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, and then
watched with great relief as they were lowered back into their silos when
the crisis was over. Thanks, Norma!