Before Cam Martin could walk or speak, his mother wrote prophetically in the baby book that he seemed to have a fascination with airplanes. His first flight at the age of two was with his father at the controls of a rented yellow Piper Cub. Cam says, “Apparently there wasn’t a time when I wasn’t interested in planes.”
It was not a passing phase, and he never grew from it. Maybe Cam was just born to fly. Cam’s father, a Navy man serving on an aircraft carrier in the Korean War, learned to fly with the help of GI Bill.
Cam recalls, âIt helped to have a father who was good at building model airplanes. I still have a shelf full of many planes he built when I was in elementary school. He was an avid reader with a large aviation library for the time. We went to see all the airplane movies that came to town, X-15, Jet Pilot, The Blue Max and The Battle of Britain were especially memorable.
A generation, and two world wars earlier, Cam’s grandfather, James Campbell Martin, who studied at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, was sworn in in the military on March 2, 1918 and was assigned to the 293rd Aero Squadron Radio Detachment of the 28th Service Company, Signal Corps at March Field in Riverside, California. He received flight instructions, was promoted to first sergeant and head of a radio school for cadets.
On November 6, Sergeant Martin and his detachment went to war, with orders to report to Toul, France. They have never gone further than New York. The war ended five days after they left California.
With two generations of military aviation veterans in the family, Cam Martin’s interests and activities converged on the path that would lead him to âthe primary passion of my lifeâ.
After earning a Bachelor of Science in Business Logistics from Penn State University and later a Masters of Administrative Science from George Washington University, Patriot Cam Martin was made an officer in the US Navy where he climbed a another rung of the ladder leading to a fulfilling life and career in aeronautics.
âI’ve done a lot of things in my Navy career, but I’ve always had a component in my job related to public affairs,â Cam recalls. âWhen I first served in the Navy in 1976, my job was to write the daily flight program. But the public affairs officer found out that I was the only one who could identify old airplane photos.
The skill returned after Cam joined NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia in 1988. He was working in the field when the need arose to urgently identify a mysterious plane photo. When other staff asked the boss if he could identify the plane. He said, “Just call Cam and hold the photo near the phone receiver.”
While at Langley, he and the communications team he led received a series of Aviation and Space Writers Association awards, foreshadowing a long and successful career.
The Experimental Aircraft Association first appeared on Cam’s professional radar around 1989, and he made his first pilgrimage to the organization’s annual week-long event in Oshkosh, Wisc., As part of NASA’s outreach. to the tech-savvy aviation community.
Over the next three decades, Cam participated in Air Venture, became a Forum speaker and exhibitor, and became an EAA Young Eagles Flight Leader, flying experienced flights in aviation to present and hopefully the, inspire young people from 8 to 17 years old. Since its inception in 1992, the Young Eagles program has transported over 2 million students.
On another higher level, over the 50 years of its existence, Air Venture Oshkosh had three chaplains to serve the people of multiple faiths who attended the arrival by air. Cam Martin is the current and third chaplain to hold this position.
Cam began serving as EAA Chaplain in 2012 after volunteering with Fergus Chapel Air Venture for over a decade. It also hosts the Fellowship of the Wing, a daily opportunity for people to come together early each morning in an informal setting to share a cup of coffee, a song, and an inspiring short message at the intersection of flight and faith. .
The Fergus Chapel, the first structure built by EAA on the site, is a replica of a quaint old Wisconsin rural church, located in a quiet part of the park. Non-denominational services are offered to Air Venture visitors outside of their usual routines. Cam points out that a half-dozen clerics representing a variety of faiths also volunteer to lead worship services for Catholics, Protestants and Jews, “supporting the spiritual needs of the fleeing family.”
Chaplain Cam said the early morning events at this year’s Air Venture Oshkosh Chapel are all about fun and camaraderie. âWhen someone calls it ‘chapel service’, I cringe,â Cam says. “We are airplane people who are having too much fun.”
While the chapel team is ready to help deal with any incident, Cam said it has been a safe year. âWe have bandages for emotional first aid, but this year we didn’t need them. “
Oshkosh, in the words of Cam Martin, has come back to life after a 24-month pandemic year. Attendance was set at 608,000, less than 5% of the all-time high in 2019, and only the third attendance exceeded 600,000.
Cam says that each year, Oshkosh Air Venture is quite simply the largest and longest celebration of flight in the world, a combination of air show, convention and family reunion, with the Experimental Aircraft Assn. At the heart of it all, providing most of the 5,000 volunteers contributing 250,000 hours.
Oshkosh’s numbers are staggering:
- 10,000 planes at Wittman Regional Airport and other fields in east-central Wisconsin;
- 16,378 air operations over the days at Wittman alone, with an average of 116 take-offs and landings per hour ‘
- 3,176 exhibition planes, including 1,420 vintage planes, 1,089 homemade constructions, 354 warbirds, 148 aerobatic planes, 112 amphibians, 33 ultralights and 27 rotorcraft;
- 747 trade exhibitors and 1,055 forums, workshops and other presentations hosted.
Cam remarks: âIf it flies, there is a corner for those who are passionate about this niche. Burt Rutan’s first clients traveled there. In the hallway of the Mojave Air and Space Port administration building is a photo of local builders flying towards Oshkosh in formation. Most were creations of Burt.
Editor’s Note: This is the second part of a three-part series. Look for part three in the next issue of Aerotech News and Review.