The World's First "Family Outing" by Airplane
|-----Photo courtesy Mrs. Alice C. Martin|
Charles F. Walsh, who is credited with being the first man in California to build a practical flyable
airplane, finished construction on his plane in San Diego less than one month after the close of the Dominguez Meet. As a consequence
he received Pilot's License No. 1, issued by the Aero Club of California. On February 20, 1911, Walsh was an experienced
"barn-stormer" when he visited Dominguez Field to carry sight-seers. Here he is shown flying his wife, now Mrs. Alice C. Martin, and their
two children, Walter, on his father's right and Juanita, sitting calmly on her mother's lap without benefit of a safety belt. It was a
twelve-minute "outing." Walsh and his family "barnstormed" the United States and Canada, shipping their plane by railway between
cities and towns where He was killed in a crash of his plane on October 3, 1912, at Trenton, New Jersey, on a final test flight before a
planned ride by Presidential Candidate Woodrow Wilson.
Taken from the book:
America's First International Air Meet; by J. Wesley Neal
The Historical Society of Southern California Quarterly,
December, 1961. Vol. 43
|San Diego Union Staff Photo by Roger Wrenn|
Mrs. Charles Walsh Martin, widow of California's first licensed pilot, reflects on the early days in
San Diego as she visits the home in Mission Valley in which her husband was born 84 years ago.
Excitement of 1st Family
Airplane Flight Recalled
by Beverly Beyette
The brave little woman braced her feet in their high-button shoes against the guide lines of the biplane, grasped her 3-year-old daughter by one arm, and tied her long braids beneath her chin.
Seconds later the homemade "Silver Dart" took off from Compton on the world's first family airplane outing. The woman aboard was Mrs. Charles Walsh and the pilot was her daredevil husband.
It was on Feb. 11, 1911 that the crude little plane took the Walshes, theri daughter Juanita, and 4-year-old son Walter, on their history-making adventure.
Collection of Ernie Sansome
He obtained his license, the first aviator's license issued in California, in April, 1911 and launched an ill-fated career as an exhibition pilot that came to a tragic end a year later in a crash at Trenton, N. J.
His widow, Mrs. Charles Walsh Martin, visiting here with a cousin, Mrs. Clara J. Brisco, has vivid memories of San Diego, for Walsh made the first recorded plane flight in California from Imperial Beach in 1910.
Nor could Mrs. Martin, who now lives in Inglewood, come to San Diego without visiting the yellow frame house in Mission Valley in which her husband was born in 1877.
Standing in front of the house, looking across the freeway to the sprawling Mission Valley Center, she exclaimed, "This is a different Mission Valley from that I knew. And isn't it wonderful!"
Although the "Silver Dart's" little 40-horsepower engine would lift it only 100 feet off the ground, winds could be fierce when one was completely exposed to the elements. "It nearly lifted my hair out of the roots," she recalls.
The "Silver Dart" was a work of love, if not a work of art. Mrs. Martin sewed the wing covers of unbleached muslin on her machine and she and her husband tied them on with rope. To give the plane its silver color, they rubbed in aluminum powder.
Admits Mrs. Martin, "She was a little lopsided." However, it didn't seem to matter, for Walsh went on to win every event and walk off with $500 and five cups.
Soon afterwards Walsh joined forces with his friend Glenn Curtiss and the Walshes spent the next year criss-crossing the country by train from meet to meet, shipping the plane before them.
At 80, white-haired Mrs. Martin is the sole survivor of America's first family plane excursion.
"They can take my fortune, my home, and even my life, but they can never take my memories."
Fri., Aug. 18, 1961
On February 11, 1911, Walsh took up his wife and two children, aged 4 and 5 1/2, in the world's
first family outing. Mrs. Walsh is the sole family survivor of that flight, the children, Juanita, who also became a pilot and Walter, dying in