Part visionary and part showman, Glenn Luther Martin built his first airplane in 1910 in an abandoned California church, taught himself how to fly and went on to become one of the 20th century's aviation and industrial icons.
Martin would, by age 22, own an airplane plant. To hype sales, he claimed he was the first pilot to take his mother aloft. He also delivered newspapers from the air and hunted coyotes from his cockpit, landing once with one of the animals bagged and tied to the wing of a biplane.
Along the way, the eccentric industrialist whose factories churned out hundreds of aircraft and missiles for military and commercial use was responsible for converting rural Middle River in Baltimore County into a bustling wartime city. Though Martin died in 1955, that community still bears his name on a boulevard, an airport, a strip mall and an elementary school.
Martin's legacy is one people on the east side and beyond cherish, and want to remember.
But one of the chief places where Martin's enduring imprint can be experienced, the Glenn L. Martin Aviation Museum, is out of space. Museum officials have launched a fund-raising drive to build a new hangar at Martin State Airport to house various Martin artifacts, including 10 historic aircraft now exposed to the weather.
"Our attendance at the museum has increased, and we need to expand to become a tourist attraction as this part of the county grows," said Gene DiGennaro Sr., the museum's executive director and an engineer at Northrop Grumman in Linthicum. "And we'd like to always keep it as it is now, free to the public."
The museum is brimming with photographs, models of airplanes and guided missiles, airplane parts and a vintage wool baseball uniform worn by a Martin worker on one of the company's teams during World War II. One wall is papered with color covers of Martin Magazine published in the 1940s.
Aviation buffs, former workers and museum officials find the timing to push for larger quarters just right - with this year being the 100th anniversary of the Wright brothers' historic first flight in Kitty Hawk, N.C.
If a new home for the museum could be built, there is an abundance of items to share with the public.
A few steps from the cramped confines of the museum, in a temperature-controlled room, are more than 200,000 photographs and other historical documents relating to Martin's reign as one of America's lords of flight.
And closer to the flight line outside, there are 10 historic airplanes that can be seen as part of a guided tour. Officials would like to add more, including a MiG-21 and one of the surviving two Mars seaplanes, which are now used to fight forest fires in Canada.
Officials are most concerned about the historic planes, which are exposed to the elements and scores of persistent families of starlings that have built nests inside most of the aircraft - one of the favorites for the starlings is a prop-driven Martin 404 commercial airliner, complete with curtained windows.
Since the Sept. 11 terror attacks, tighter airport security has meant fewer younger visitors, especially schoolchildren. But when Route 43 is extended into Eastern Boulevard by 2005, museum officials hope to have a larger facility to attract visitors from Interstate 95 and beyond.
"What's vitally important for the public to know is how Martin, who began to master a new technology a century ago, changed the world," said Jack Breihan, a museum board member and chairman of the history department at Loyola College.
To Roay McNamara, who worked as a secretary during World War II at the Martin plant, her boss was a fascinating industrial giant - with his mother, Minta, always just a few steps behind him.
"He was simply a very nice man, interested in the welfare of his employees," said McNamara, 81, of Bowley's Quarters. "You know he lived with his mother his entire life. She wasn't a pill as some thought, but she pushed him."
Martin, McNamara said, had other women in his life, such as actress Virginia Mayo, one of the stars of the classic film The Best Years of Our Lives.
"Pretty movie stars were always flying in and visiting him in Middle River," McNamara said. "It seemed he had a very nice private life."
It was a life marked by accomplishment and fierce independence. Martin, according to historians, crossed swords and disagreed with generals in what was then called the War Department, with President Harry S. Truman, and with others who he felt weren't sharp enough or who were bound in bureaucratic thinking.
That is not odd considering that Martin, as a young boy, hooked a sail to his wagon and then to his bicycle to propel himself faster, and with less effort, than his pals.
Calvin Clark, 85, worked for Martin and played chess with him on the GlenMar 1 yacht, a splendid 105-foot craft fitted with brass and leather and tended by a five-man crew and captain.