Born Grace Marguerite Lethbridge, she was the widow of a British diplomat, Sir Robert Hay Drummond-Hay.
As a journalist for the Hearst press organization, Drummond-Hay made her first zeppelin flight in October, 1928, when she was chosen to accompany five other reporters — including her companion and Hearst colleague Karl von Wiegand — on the first transatlantic flight of the Graf Zeppelin from Germany to America. As the only woman on the flight, Drummond-Hay received a great deal of attention in the world’s press.
In March of 1929, Lady Drummond Hay and von Wiegand were once again aboard Graf Zeppelin, for the ship’s “Orient Flight” to Palestine.
Later in 1929 the Hearst organization co-sponsored Graf Zeppelin’s historic Round-the-World flight and their reporter Lady Drummond-Hay was once again a passenger. She was the only woman among the 60 male passengers and crew, which again included her companion von Wiegand. Drummond-Hay’s presence on the flight, and her reporting as the ship circled the globe, garnered tremendous attention in the press.
Lady Drummond Hay’s experience on the Graf Zeppelin’s Round-the-World flight, and her romance with fellow journalist Karl von Wiegand, is the subject of the film Farewell by Dutch filmmaker Ditteke Mensink. Several elements of the film are fictional, as discussed in more detail on the blog.
During the flight, Lady Drummond-Hay wrote and posted a letter to her friend Adams, looking forward to meeting again “as companions in adventure when the next Zeppelin is completed.”
The letter is dated is dated May 8, 1936; the age of the passenger zeppelin ended just a year later, with the Hindenburg disaster of May 6, 1937.
My dear Clara:
I cannot tell you how happy I was to find you on board the Hindenburg as one of the passengers on her first flight from Germany to America. I hope we will meet again as “companions in adventure” when the next Zeppelin is completed, and that once more we will pioneer a path through the air together.
Kindest thoughts always,
your sincere friend,
Grace M Hay Drummond Hay
Lady Drummond-Hay and her partner Karl von Wiegand were in the Philippines when the Japanese invaded the islands in 1942, and both were interned in a Japanese camp. Although Drummond-Hay survived the war and returned to New York, she died of coronary thrombosis in early 1946 as a result of the extremely harsh conditions she had suffered at the hands of the Japanese.