AKA Lily Irvine Martin
Lily Irvine
Lily Irvine
Lily Irvine
"James V Martim is well known as a pioneer plane designer
Lily flew his sea plane for starters."

Photo & text from Helen Rappaport, 10-15-09

via email from Helen Rappaport, 10-15-09
Dear Ralph

I found your web page while idly googling for info on my great aunt Lily Irvine. I did the family history 25 years ago and chased down a fair amount about Lily and her husband James V Martin then it sort of got buried - work, family, commitments, you know. I recently got my file back from my brother as Iíd been thinking of going in pursuit of Lily again. The one thing that really niggles is that she may well have been the first or the youngest woman in Britain to fly but never took her pilotís licence so we canít prove it. But the South African press said in her obituary that she was Ďthe first English-speaking woman to operate an aeroplaneí.

Anyway, here for a starter is a bit about her:

Born 1891 in Durban, South Africa, one of four daughters of a Scottish jeweller and watchmaker James Croy Irvine from Edinburgh, who settled out there. Married James V Martin at Hendon Register office 15 February 1911 - they had one son, James Hamilton Martin b. 1911 and an adopted daughter Eileen bc. 1920. Lily and James later divorced. I donít have her precise death date but it was c. 1959, aged 68 in Miami Florida. Apparently she left a will - I havenít got round to tracking this down. Apparently she did some barnstorming in USA after her marriage.

I have more on James V Martin but heís much better known.

All best wishes
Helen Rappaport

Lily Irvine
Collection of Martin Loader, 9-20-07

via email from L. M. Orr, 2-12-07
     On Sunday August 10, 1912, she flew at Minoru Park Richmond now a suburb of Vancouver----- billed as the first woman to fly in Canada ---there might be more info in the paper ---I found this advert in the Vancouver Sun
Editor's Note: You can find numerous links to websites which feature the role of Minoru Park in the early development of aviation. You will find references to many of the more familiar pioneer aviators, such as Charles K. Hamilton and Alys Bryant.

     If you search for "Lily Irvine" +aviation, using the Google search engine, (9-20-07), you will find about 6 relative links.

by John Jensen.
     "James V. Martin organised a Harvard-Boston flying competition and attracted fliers from all over the world. He became friends with Claude Graham-White, who walked off with most of the prize money from that event. Martin went to England in 1911, enrolled in the Graham-White flying school at Hendon, and learned to fly Farman and Bleriot planes. He soon became a flight instructor at the London Aerodrome and trained many of the men who would later become Britain's aviators in WW1.
     He married a lady from England in that year, the attractive Lily Irvine, taught her to fly, and she became the first woman in England to do so. On March 11th Martin became the first man to fly over London, and to great acclaim.
     He and his wife came to America that spring and Martin flew in competitive flying events on the East Coast and Chicago........"

Editor's Note:     These three paragraphs have been excerpted from a fascinating article which is found on the Isetta Owner's Club of Great Britain website and recounts the story of James V. Martin and his invention of the Martin 3-wheeler, a little car similar to the Isetta. It is one of the only sources of information about his wife Lily who accompanied him on his later exploits. To read the whole illustrated story, just click on the title above.

AK History Project II
by Trisha Madros, Violet and Joel
Project Leader, Ms. Campen
     This page on the Mt. Edgecombe High School, Sitka, Alaska website, was a project of the three students mentioned above, as assigned by Ms. Madsen, their Social Studies teacher. It has disappeared from the original location, but I found an archived copy on the website. It offers a brief reference to the arrival of James V. Martin and his wife "Lilly"in Fairbanks, Alaska on July 4, 1913 in its Introduction. Later in the body of the report you will find a number of interesting facts about their activities in Alaska. I think it is a remarkable example of what properly motivated high school students can accomplish.
     You can access the site by clicking on the title above. While there, it time permits, you might want to revue the entire history of aviation in Alaska from 1867 to the present. You can find their story by scrolling down the page or you can use your FIND button on "Martin" to go directly to the entry.

by Jim Ruotsala
     The book is out of print, but I found several online sources including the alibris website. You can go to that site by clicking on the title above.
"This book contains over 180 rare and previously unpublished photographs depicting the early years of aviation in Alaska."
     Of particular interest is a very nice picture of James and his wife Lily Irvine Martin standing in front of their Gage-Martin tractor biplane in Fairbanks, Alaska, July 1913. To view it, click on the title above.

Before Amelia
Women Pilots in the Early
Days of Aviation
Eileen F. Lebow
Product Details
Cloth: 315 pages; 6x9 inches
List Price: $26.95
Your Price: $21.56
ISBN: 1574884824
Before Amelia is the remarkable story of the worldís women pioneer aviators who braved the skies during the early days of flight. While most books have only examined the women aviators of a single country, Eileen Lebow looks at an international spectrum of pilots and their influence on each other. The story begins with Raymonde de Laroche, a French woman, who became the first licensed female pilot in 1909. De Laroche, Lydia Zvereva, Melli Beese, Hilda Hewlitt, Harriet Quimby, and the other women pilots profiled here rose above contemporary gender stereotypes and proved their ability to fly the temperamental heavier-than-air contraptions of the day.
Lebow provides excellent descriptions of the dangers and challenges of early flight. Crashes and broken bones were common, and many of the pioneers lost their lives. But these women were adventurers at heart. In an era when womenís professional options were severely limited and the mere sight of ladies wearing pants caused a sensation, these women succeeded as pilots, flight instructors, airplane designers, stunt performers, and promoters. This book fills a large void in the history of the first two decades of flight
About The Author:
Eileen F. Lebow is an author and former teacher. Her previous books include Cal Rodgers and the Vin Fiz: The First Transcontinental Flight and A Grandstand Seat: The Army Balloon Corps in World War I. She lives in Washington, D.C.
     This book has two full pages of information on Lily Irvine. The coverage of the many other pioneer women aviators is excellent. It deserves to be in the library of anyone who is interested in these remarkable women. For more information and to order, go to the publisher's homepage by clicking on:
Brassey's Inc.

"I donít have her precise death date
but it was c. 1959, aged 68 in Miami Florida."

Personal communication from Helen Rappaport, 10-15-09
Editor's Note:
If you have any more information on this pioneer aviator,
please contact me.
E-mail to Ralph Cooper

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