Born in Macksburg, Iowa on January 17, 1886, Glenn L. Martin grew to become a pioneer aviator and aircraft manufacturer. Before the age of ten, Martin had already flown, built and sold box kites. In Santa Ana, California he rented an abandoned church in order to construct a biplane which he flew for the first time in August 1909. That same year, he established the Glenn L. Martin Aircraft Company and operated it out of the church. Martin taught himself how to fly and eventually received his Federal Aeronautique Internationale Aviator's Certificate on August 9, 1911. He toured the country in flying exhibitions and became famous as a barnstormer. Martin expanded upon his fame when he made the first extended over-ocean flight on May 10, 1912. He flew from Newport Bay, California to Catalina Island, a total of nearly 70 miles. In early 1913, with a bomb-sight of his own design, Martin made the first bombing test from an aircraft. He later invented a parachute that opened automatically. Martin continued to accomplish many firsts and established or broke numerous records during his diverse flying career. For example, he was one of the first to deliver mail, to deliver newspapers, to take motion pictures while in flight and to drop advertising flyers and coupons on an audience.
Martin's company flourished and had to be moved to Los Angeles, California in 1912 in order to accommodate the orders. In 1917, a short-lived partnership with the Wright Brothers produced the Wright-Martin Aircraft Corporation, but in the same year, Martin reestablished his own company and moved it to Cleveland, Ohio. In 1929, because of higher demands and lack of sufficient space, Martin moved his company once again, but this time to Middle River, Maryland.
Before 1913, the company manufactured sport and recreational aircraft, but that changed when the government ordered the Model TT, the Army's first training aircraft. From that moment on, the company became one the premier suppliers of military aircraft, especially for use in World War II. The first of the well known Martin Bombers, MB-1, was completed in 1918. Martin received the Collier Trophy from Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932 for the introduction of the B-10 Bomber. He continued to receive various medals and awards such as the Daniel Guggenheim Medal in 1940, the Officer of the French National Order of the Legion of Honor in 1949 and the Boys' Club of America Service to Boys Award in 1951. Martin belonged to a large number of clubs and organizations including the Early Birds, the Wings Club, the Aeronautical Chamber of Commerce of America and was president of the Institute of Aeronautical Science in 1936.
Martin remained president of his company for over 40 years, but died in 1955. His company went through a merger in 1961 with American-Marietta Corporation and to form Martin Marietta Corp. In 1995, a similar merger occurred with Lockheed Corp. which created Lockheed Martin Corp.