A native son of Lehighton passed away this month. He is someone we should be proud to call a son of Lehighton. Maybe some who are reading this actually knew him. His passing was reported in The New York Times on Monday, June 13 and they gave him a good size obituary.
His name was Maynard L. Hill, born in Lehighton Feb. 21, 1926. His father, Claude, was a blacksmith and his mother, Esther, worked in a mill.
Why should we remember him?
He had a remarkable life full of achievements in a field that not many could match.
He designed model planes; it was his passion and he has been described as being obsessed with it.
He built models that set 25 world records for speed, duration and altitude for both powered flights and gliders. In 1970, he designed a model that flew to 26,990 feet and another model reached a speed of 150.9 miles per hour.
But the achievement we should remember our Lehighton boy for is the model he designed that crossed the Atlantic. Yes! A model plane flew on its own and crossed the Atlantic Ocean!
It flew 1,882 miles with a flight time of 38 hours, 52 minutes and 14 seconds.
The plane took off from Newfoundland at 8 p.m. August 9 and landed on the west coast of Ireland just after 2 p.m. on August 11, 2003.
It just staggers the imagination that a model plane flew across the Atlantic. Can you imagine the design of a model plane capable of being guided that distance?
This was not all that this remarkable man did. He worked for 26 years at Johns Hopkins University in the Applied Physics Laboratory, first as a metallurgist and finally doing research into unmanned aircraft.
My reason for writing is that I thought, "here is a man that was well worth mentioning."
Michael Shapcott, Ph.D.