Burgess of Marblehead:
People, Places and Planes
The exhibit explores the pioneering aviation work of Starling
Burgess, whose Marblehead airplane factory produced some of
the most innovative airplanes and sea-planes of the early
Although he is best remembered as a yacht
designer, Starling Burgess became interested in the emerging
field of aviation. He studied with the Wright Brothers, and
in 1911, built “The Flying Fish”, noted for making
the first flight in New England.
William J. Deane, President and Journal Editor
of the Massachusetts Aviation Historical Society characterizes
Burgess as “a highly successful aviation innovator and
businessman.” He credits Burgess’ success to his
genius for bringing together the best management and investment
partners to successfully realize his original designs and
to achieve his ambitious business plan.
In the 1930s, Burgess went on to design three
America’s Cup defenders, and worked with Buckminster
Fuller on the experimental Dymaxion automobile. “Burgess’
interest in scientific experimentation allowed him to move
rather deftly between yacht design, airplane design and auto
design,” adds Deane.
The exhibition features early photographs
from Fred Lichtman’s collection of glass plate negatives,
belonging to both the Marblehead Museum and the Marblehead
Historical Commission. Replicas of several planes from the
era will also be on display.
The exhibit also has assistance from the
Massachusetts Aviation Historical Society, the Burgess Museum
at the Plum Island Airfield.