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Friday, October 18, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

100 years ago in Spokane: Chronicle reporter takes joy ride on ‘bombing plane’

The Martin bomber was in the midst of a cross-country tour designed to show off the nation’s new air power. The bomber had lifted off from Washington, D.C., days earlier. (Spokane Daily Chronicle archives)
The Martin bomber was in the midst of a cross-country tour designed to show off the nation’s new air power. The bomber had lifted off from Washington, D.C., days earlier. (Spokane Daily Chronicle archives)

Vaughn Jones of the Spokane Daily Chronicle enjoyed the thrill ride of his life as a passenger in a large Martin “bombing plane” as it roared from Spokane to Coeur d’Alene.

It took only 20 minutes. Jones was impressed with both “the power of the big machine” and the “nonchalance of her crew of four men.” Jones called the army flyers all “hale fellows well met,” and said they showed the camaraderie that comes with “constantly gambling together against death.”

The Martin bomber was in the midst of a cross-country tour designed to show off the nation’s new air power. The bomber had lifted off from Washington, D.C., days earlier.

Jones was outfitted in helmet, goggles and warm jacket and said “the front cockpit is a breezy place when you stick your head out.” But he noted that the flyers were not bothered by the cold and that one officer “did not even wear a helmet.”

The bomber flew at 3,000 feet and Liberty Lake looked as small as a “duck pond.”

“The Spokane River itself is an insignificant ribbon of water,” he said.

From the explosion beat: Three men were under arrest for an explosion that rocked the rear of the Old National Bank building earlier in the week, the Chronicle reported.

It appeared, however, that the bank was not the target. Indications were that the three men were fooling around with nitroglycerine – for unexplained reasons – in their room overlooking the back alley. They became frightened and threw the volatile substance out the window, where it exploded on a shed before reaching the ground.

Officials weren’t quite sure what to charge the men with, beyond misdemeanor possession of explosives.

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