100 years ago this week, Alaskans who didn't believe in airplanes got straightened out

AnchorageJuly 3, 2013 

Lily and James Martin with their Gage-Martin biplane in Fairbanks, 1913.

BASIL CLEMONS — Alaska State Library Historical Collections

From the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: On July 3, 1913, in Fairbanks, almost a decade after the Wright brothers' first controlled flight, there were still some people in Alaska who didn't believe a hunk of metal and wood could soar like a bird. But on that day, Harvard graduate and inventor James V. Martin and his wife put on the show that proved the doubters wrong. First, though, the couple had to get their airplane to Fairbanks, and the town had to build a runway.

Martin, 28, would go wherever he could find paying customers. His goal was to raise enough to build a plane and fly across the Atlantic Ocean. ...

Martin and his wife Lily, also a pilot, arrived with their airplane on the first voyage of the steamer Alaska, which took seven days to make the trip from Whitehorse on the Yukon, Tanana and Chena rivers.

 The Martins had traveled up the Inside Passage by steamship and to Whitehorse by the White Pass & Yukon Railroad.

Hundreds of people gathered in downtown Fairbanks on June 21 to get a look at the airplane on the top deck.

Read more about Alaska's first flight: First flight launched Alaska into aviation age 100 years ago

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