Do You Know Who Clara Adams Is?
(as written by Clara Adams herself)
In March of 1914 I had my first flight. This was at Lake Eustis, Florida. Walter E. Johnson, later a Captain in the U.S. Army during the World War, was the pilot. It was in a Thomas flying boat, which he and Mr. Charles Hermann constructed. We went up to only 700 ft. - a daring height in those pioneer days. I was a mere youngster but it was an expreience that marked the beginning of years of flying. I have never piloted a plane in spite of the great interest I have in flying.
In 1924, I spent several weeks in Friedrichshafen, Germany, home of the Zeppelins. I had with me a letter of introduction to Dr. Hugo Eckner, which was given me by General Paul von Hindenburg. This letter was a wonderful entree, of course, and opened magic doors of the Zeppelin realm. At that time, the ZR III was making test flights. I was Dr. Eckner's guest on one of these. In October 1924, the ZR III was delivered to the U. S. Government under the Versailles Treaty-- a reperation delivery. It was later christened the U S S "Los Angeles" (our own Navy dirigible).
The most notable flight took place, when in 1928 the Graf Zeppelin made its pioneer round trip- from Europe to the U. S. A. and return. It was my privilege to buy the first ticket ever sold to a feminine passenger to fly across the Atlantic. It cost $3,000. On this pioneer flight from the U. S. to Europe, there were 64 men and one woman aboard. I was that lone woman. It turned out to be the most hazardous trip ever experienced by the Zeppelin officers and crew even to the present day. 71 hours, the flight lasted.
In 1931 the largest airplane ever built (even to this day) left its home base in Europe and started on a trip which covered several continents. This was the giant flying boat, the DORNIER DO-X. I bought a ticket to fly in it (the only woman paying passenger on the long flight from Rio de Janiero to New York). I flew all the way from the U. S. A. to Rio de Janiero via Pan American Airways to Rio (Brazil). It was necessary to fly, otherwise I would not have reached Rio in time to participate in the flight of the DO-X, Rio de Janiero to New York. This trip was one of the most historic on record. This giant ship is now in an aeronautical museum. I could write a good-sized book were I tell all the wonders that crowded into those six thrilling weeks.
In May of 1936, the super-dirigible "Hindenburg" made its maiden flight across the North Atlantic from Europe to the U. S. A. The trip lasted 61 hours and 38 minutes. There were 107 persons aboard - 51 passengers, 11 of whom were women. I was one of these fortunate women.
In the same year (1936) of the "Hindenburg's" flight to the U. S. A. there was another historic flight. I flew from New York to California by United Airlines and on October 21st I boarded Pan American's great clipper ship, the "China Clipper" which made the inaugural commercial passenger flight across the Pacific. After the completion of that 14 days' thrilling flight, I flew from California back to New York, so during that year I covered over 27,000 miles by air which is more than the distance around the globe at the equator.
When the air service for commercial passengers was established between New York and Bermuda in June 1937, I participated in the first round trip. There were eight women and twelve men passengers aboard.
FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES ROTOGRAVURE PICTURE SECTION UNDER DATE OF JULY 23, 1939:
"Around the world in 16 days, 19 hours, 4 minutes is the new passenger record set by Mrs. Clara Adams of New York, persisten "first flight". Only regular air passenger lines were used, five in all."
I left New York, June 28th, making the inaugural passenger flight fo the DIXIE CLIPPER to Marseilles, the first leg of my flight around the world. I returned to New York on July 15th, 1939, after covering 24,609 miles by air.
I might add that during my many years of flying, I have gone aloft in a great variety of air craft--including free balloons, gliders and what-not, in different parts of the world. It has been my pleasure to meet many noted flyers the world over. Often I have been the guest of famous men and women flyers. My cousin, Colonel Arthur C. Goebel, won the Dole prize of $25,000 in 1927 as the first person to fly from the United States to Hawaii.
I have never been connected with any commercial concern or publication, having always flown as a private passenger, and I hope to continue this aerial hobby as such. I am known as
Historic First Flight (or) Persisten First Flighter
I want it understood that in what I have written, I am merely stating facts with no intention of boasting.
I was born in Cincinnnati, Ohio. My late husband George L. Adams, of Boston, Mass. He owned and operated a chain of tanneries in Pennsylvania.
For more information on Clara Adams visit the following informative website on Airships by Dan Grossman. www.airships.net