Biographical / Historical
James Vernon Martin (1885-1956) was an aviator and inventor during the early days of aviation. He joined the Merchant Marine (1900) before attending the University of Virginia and Harvard (graduate degree, 1912). While at Harvard he organized the Harvard Aeronautical Society (1910), served as its first director, and, through the Society, organized the first international air meet in the United States (1910). He traveled to England in January 1911 for flight training and received Royal Aero Club F.A.I. Certificate #55. After returning to the U.S. in June 1911, he traveled the exhibition circuit (1911-13) before rejoining the Merchant Marine as commander of USS Lake Frey (1914). During 1915 he flew flight test for the Aeromarine Co. In 1917, he formed the Martin Aeroplane Company in Elyria, OH on the strength of nine aeronautical patents, including his automatic stabilizer (1916) and retractable landing gear (1916). In 1920 he moved the concern to Dayton, OH as Martin Enterprises and offered free use of his patents to the American aeronautical industry. He moved to Garden City (Long Island), NY in 1922, called the company the Martin Aeroplane Factory, and, two years later, sued the United States government and the Manufacturers Aeronautical Association, claiming that they conspired to monopolize the aviation industry. The suit was dismissed in 1926, but Martin continued to press his claims of collusion through the 1930s. During World War II he again returned to the sea, commanding a troop transport in the Pacific. Afterwards he tried to raise interest in a large catamaran flying boat, the Martin 'Oceanplane', but failed in the face of the growth in commercial trans-ocean service by conventional aircraft.