The World's First "Family Outing" by Airplane
Charles Walsh
  -----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.
Collection of Ernie Sansome
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
Charles Walsh
  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.
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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.
Charles Walsh
Collection of Ernie Sansome
     The flight lasted only minutes, but months of preparation had gone into it. It had all begun several years before when Walsh read of the Wright Brothers' experiments and decided to build a plane.
     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.
     Their home was a tent house in Imperial Beach, a thriving community of 50 persons. They kept their plane near the house and Mrs. Martin recalls that the landlord gave them free rental because the plane attracted so many Sunday tourists.
     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!"
     Mrs. Martin has clear recollections of her first airplane ride. "The family told me the pins might fly out of my hair into the engine," she recalls, "so I just wrapped my long braids under my chin."
     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.
     They took their homemade machine to a novice meet at Playa del Rey in October, 1910. Mrs. Martin stood with tears streaming down her cheeks as the spectators laughed and called it an "ice wagon."
     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.
     Waiting in the stands that fateful day at Trenton 49 years ago was president Wilson, who was to have been the next passenger in Walsh's plane. The pilot's wife, packing for an upcoming trip to Europe, had stayed at home.
     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."
From The San Diego Union
Fri., Aug. 18, 1961
Charles Walsh
       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 the 1950s.
Collection of Ernie Sansome