Posted by: cantmisssd | January 5, 2010

Waldo Waterman

As may be well evident, I’m a huge nerd. So probably I’m about the only person who would wander around Bankers Hill and get excited about a totally nondescript, monolithic historical marker on the side of a back road.

As it turns out, Waldo Waterman was quite the impressive pioneer of flight. The Wright Brothers first flew in 1903. In 1909, Waldo (at 15 years old) pulled off the same feat by basically throwing himself off the top rim of Maple Canyon with a homemade biplane glider and living to tell the tale- thus the marker. He caught on a couple years later (still a teenager) with Glenn Curtiss out at North Island and became Department of Theory of Flight, School of Military Aeronautics at the University of California. By the way, he was still only 24 when the war ended.

By the late 20s, he was churning out super-cool innovations left and right. He created the Waterman Whatsit, the first tailless monoplane/flying wing and featuring the first modern tricycle landing gear still used today.

Drawing on earlier attempts by Curtiss, Waterman in 1957 produced the first functional flying car. Called it the Aerobile.

Now hang on. He invented the FLYING CAR. Seriously?! It raises an extremely important question now: Why don’t I have a flying car?

Both of those revolutionary planes are now in the Smithsonian, but here in San Diego he gets a back alley tombstone-looking marker that nobody will ever see. With a treacherous little path down to the base of Maple Canyon. So much of San Diego’s history is a stretch. Here we have the originator of the FLYING CAR getting no love.

Which is (hopefully) why this blog is worthwhile.


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