Clara Adams

Clara Adams is little remembered today but she was well known as a pioneer of commercial aviation during the 1920′s, 30′s, and 40′s — and always as a paying passenger.

Known as a “First Flighter,” Clara Adams was aboard the maiden flights of the Graf Zeppelin and Hindenburg airships, Pan Am Clipper flying boats, and other early airliners, and she became acquainted with many of the famous aviators of the day including Amelia Earhart (picture).

Clara Adams with LZ-127 Graf Zeppelin

Clara Adams with LZ-127 Graf Zeppelin

Wealthy Widow
adams-united-f5

Mrs. Adams was married to George L. Adams, president of the American Leather Tanning company, who owned a series of tanneries in Pennsylvania.  George Adams was 40 years older than his young wife and died in 1929, leaving Clara a wealthy widow with the time and money to indulge her passion for air travel.

First Time in the Air

Clara Adams made her first flight in March, 1914, in a Thomas flying boat piloted by Army Captain Walter E. Johnson:  “I was a mere youngster but it was an experience that marked the beginning of years of flying. I have never handled the controls and have no desire to become a pilot.”

Clara Adams and the Zeppelins

Adams began her long association with zeppelins in 1924 with a letter of introduction to Hugo Eckener from Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg, to whom she was related.  (Clara Adams was born Clara Grabau, on December 3, 1884, to a German family living in Cincinnati, Ohio; her grandmother was Augusta von Hindenburg, a cousin of the German general and future president.)

Clara Adams with Dr. and Mrs. Hugo Eckener in Friedrichshafen, November 3, 1928, after arriving from North America aboard Graf Zeppelin.

Clara Adams with Dr. and Mrs. Hugo Eckener in Friedrichshafen, November 3, 1928, after arriving from North America aboard Graf Zeppelin.

Her letter of introduction to Eckener “opened the magic doors of the Zeppelin realm,” as she described it, and Eckener invited her to fly on one of the test flights of the LZ-126/ZR-III, which had been built for the Americans as war reparations and would become the United States Navy airship USS Los Angeles.

In 1928, Adams purchased the first transatlantic air ticket ever sold to a female passenger and was on the first flight of the airship Graf Zeppelin from North America to Europe in October, 1928.

When the zeppelin Hindenburg made its maiden flight from Germany to the United States in May, 1936, Adams was again one of the passengers, along with her friend Lady Grace Hay Drummond-Hay.

The loss of the airship Hindenburg in May, 1937 apparently did not shake Adam’s enthusiasm for zeppelin travel; she later recounted that “on the day after the destruction of the Hindenburg, I wrote out my check for $100 to be held as a deposit for the first ticket for the new dirigible, LZ-130… This I did to prove that I had not lost confidence in dirigible travel.”

Across the Oceans by Flying Boat

Adams was also a pioneering passenger in the other leading aviation technology of the day, the flying boat.  In 1931, she was the only paying woman passenger on the flight of Germany’s massive, twelve-engined Dornier DO-X flying boat from Rio de Janeiro to New York.

Dornier DO-X

Dornier DO-X

Clara Adams on Pan American's Hawaii Clipper

Clara Adams with Pan American's Hawaii Clipper

Clara Adams was also aboard many Pan Am Clippers for their inaugural flights, including the first passenger flight across the Pacific on Pan American’s “Hawaii Clipper.”  The Martin M-130 left San Francisco on October 21, 1936 and flew to Manila in the Philippines, with stops at Hawaii, Midway, Wake, and Guam. And the following year Mrs. Adams was on the first flight of Pan Am’s Bermuda Clipper from New York to Bermuda in 1937.

Around the World by Air

Clara Adams made one of her most famous trips in 1939, when she set a world record for an around-the-world flight solely on scheduled passenger airlines.  She left New York on June 28, 1939 aboard Pan American’s “Dixie Clipper” (a Boeing 314 flying boat which in 1943 would carry President Franklin D. Roosevelt to the Casablanca Conference).  Traveling on Pan American, Deutsche Lufthansa, KLM, and United Airlines, she circled the globe in 16 days and 19 hours, with stops in Horta, Lisbon, Marseille, Leipzig, Athens, Basra, Jodphur, Rangoon, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Manila, Guam, Wake Island, Midway Island, Honolulu, and San Francisco, returning to New York on July 15, 1939.

Clara Adams Around-the-World itinerary, 1939.

Clara Adams' Around-the-World itinerary, 1939.

Clara Adams made another first flight in September, 1940, when she flew on Pan Am’s Boeing B-314 “American Clipper” as it made the first passenger flight from the United States to New Zealand.

Clara Adams, Eccentric?

Her flights brought her great publicity, but Clara Adams was also viewed as something of an eccentric.  Time Magazine compared her to the “fire buffs” who chase fire engines in an August 3, 1931 article, and told readers that in her home town in Pennsylvania, “Mrs. Adams is considered something of a character… She owns several automobiles, yet is frequently seen walking the nine miles between Tannersville and Stroudsburg, or hailing motorists for a lift. Tall and lean, she dresses plainly, wears cotton stockings. She plays the piano with exceptional skill, is locally famed as a china-painter.”

Her Legacy to Commercial Aviation

While Adams may have been “a character” (she was infamous among Pan Am flight crews for pestering pilots for dozens of autographs), and while she did not contribute anything to the technological development of aviation, she did play an important role in the promotion of commercial aviation in its early days.  Through her relentless self-promotion (she went on lecture tours describing her aerial adventures, made sure that she received as much newspaper coverage as she could generate, and autographed mountains of postcards, menus, and other memorabilia), Clara Adams brought passenger flight to the attention of the masses, and helped change the public perception of aviation from a dangerous enterprise for daredevils in leather helmets to something that could be enjoyed by a little old widow from Pennsylvania.  Her round-the-world flight in 1939 was a very public demonstration of just how far aviation had come in so short a time; Charles Lindbergh had crossed the Atlantic in May, 1927, and just twelve years later it was possible for a woman to buy a ticket to fly around the world on scheduled airlines.

And Clara Adams made sure the world knew it.

Clara Adams with Pan Am's Honolulu Clipper

Clara Adams with Pan Am's Honolulu Clipper

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    { 72 comments… read them below or add one }

    Linda January 29, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    Greetings,
    I have come into possession an antique painting of two Catholic Cardinals that I have always loved and was fortunate enough to have inherited from my parents who would buy beautiful antiques on their annual trip to New York city every year. This small painting has a sticker on the back that indicates it belonged to a Mrs. Clara Adams, 54-35 71st St, Maspeth, NY. I wonder if anyone could confirm whether this is the same Clara Adams referred to here in these blogs.
    Thank you for any information you could share.
    Linda

    Reply

    Emy Andrew February 13, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    Yes, that’s Clara! She was often a guest in my parents’ home when I was a child! Clara and Amelia Earhart were speakers at Chautauqua, New York promoting air travel.

    Reply

    Nancy June 17, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    Was just reading about Clara Adam to find out why she was in a photo with Amila Earhart, which was given to my grandmother. She had signed it on 1929 with best wishes. Then going through more old photos there was a portrait of her to my grandparents signed “around the world” dated July 1939. So interesting to know about both Amila and Clara and that they were friends with my grandparents. Wish they were alive so I could learn so much more about all their lives. I wonder if anyone would like so see these photos?

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    Elton August 22, 2013 at 11:44 am

    Would love to see the pics..

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    Connie | Group Travel Specialists March 12, 2013 at 11:33 am

    Could you imagine what it would be like if we flew on blimps instead of airplanes today. These were definitely marvels for their time.

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    Scott Fowler January 19, 2013 at 7:10 pm

    She would have really loved Facebook and Twitter :)

    Reply

    W Brennan June 24, 2012 at 10:48 pm

    Since Clara was in Manila at the start of WWII and interned by the Japanese, how & when did she get repatriated to the USA?

    Thanks

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    sascha jansen January 8, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    Sorry,W Brennan, but Clara Adams was not n Manila during WWII or in a prison camp. I will swear on my life. I was there in a civilian camp in Manila for over 3 years. No Clara Adams.

    Aloha……sjj

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    Scott Fowler January 19, 2013 at 7:09 pm

    I think he’s thinking of Lady Grace Drummond-Hay

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    Roger June 20, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    Clara’s activities seems to have tapered off around the beginning of World War II. Did she lose interest in aviation after the war? That seems unlikely in view of the fact that commercial aviation really began to boom in that era, and many new planes were being designed and put into service. Unless she was in poor health, I can’t understand why she wouldn’t have been among the first to fly on jet airliners, though I suppose it’s just as well she didn’t fly on the ill-fated British Comet.

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    Will @radar display October 27, 2011 at 4:03 am

    Wow! this is truly amazing and informative. Interesting article. I’d love to read it again and again. Thanks for sharing..Hope to have more inspiring stories from aviation.

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    John Drury September 26, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    America’s Seaplane City – Tavares, Florida has a seaplane stories page at which Clara Adams is mentioned regarding her first flight off the shores of Tavares in a Thomas Flying boat off Lake Eustis in March of 1914.

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    Greg Goebel January 27, 2011 at 12:42 am

    For Emy Andrew
    Clara Adams (nee Grabau) was born in Cincinatti, Ohio, Dec. 3, 1884 to Walter and Ida Grabau. Walter was from Germany and Ida from Ohio. Walter was the son of Ferdinand C. Grabau and Augusta von Hindenburg, both from Magdeburg Germany. Walter had at least one sister, also named Clara who married Oscar Goebel in 1879. They took up residence in Belen, New Mexico and had a successful Merchantile store there. I have listed possibly 4 other children for Ferdinand and Augusta, but no names or dates of birth. My new email is gkgoebel@gmail.com

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    Matthew Wettlaufer December 8, 2010 at 10:21 am

    PS She also sounds like she broke a number of stereotypes about women and their roles by her traveling and promotion of the airships. Is there anywhere one could look for more information about her?

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    Matthew Wettlaufer December 8, 2010 at 10:15 am

    Thank you for the article! I have a letter mailed to my great grandmother that says “kind regards from Clara Adams aboard the Hindenburg, May 7th, 1936″–it was written on a piece of tissue paper and is in an envelope with German airmail stamps featuring zeppellins, mailed from Friedrichshafen. I always wondered who this person was who knew my family–she sounds like she was quite a character!

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    Ray Broms September 27, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    Thank you for the work that has gone into this great site. It is very useful for research. Many years ago I was successful in bidding on a lot of zep memorabilia. Included were original photos by Clara Adams and many signed by her. Unfortunately, either she was not a very good photographer or the processing (on what appears to be original photo paper of the time) made the images grainy. At any rate they are safe and I may contact the museum to see if they have any interest in them when I break up my collection. Best regards.

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    Mary Jane September 22, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    Hi Ray,

    I recently acquired an original zeppelin poster from Clara’s maiden flight from the US. The poster is inscribed with a personal note to friends and signed by Clara. The poster has had some previous restoration work. I was trying to find museums that may be interested in such a piece. Do you have any suggestions?

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    Karen August 27, 2010 at 11:06 am

    Her story is interesting. It caught my attention, I was impressed of her travel experience. The comments also helped me understand more about her. In fact I researched some other similar stories. Thanks for the post and all who add stories of her.

    Reply

    KAra August 26, 2010 at 8:49 am

    I flew to the east coast in a small 172 two summers ago and it was so much fun. Took a while.

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    wedding photography san diego August 23, 2010 at 8:38 am

    Very good information about Clara Adams. So far this is the most informative one.

    Reply

    SASCHA WEINZHEIMER JANSEN August 17, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    Hi all,
    I have enjoyed reading all your comments and information on Clara Adams. My grandfather, Ludwig Weinzheimer, was on the 1st Pan Am Passenger Clipper Flight to Manila in 1936. I have a picture of my grandfather and Clara. Ludwig hosted the Pan Am crew and passengers to a celebration on our sugar plantation when they landed in Manila. The passengers presented the crew with gold wristletts for the 1st Flight. I was a kid when my folks brought me along to watch my grandfather and the Clipper make it’s first passenger splashdown in Cavite at barge. I wasn’t too happy at the time as the heat was unbearable out in the hot sun. Today, I am delighted my parents took me to view that special time in history.

    Sascha Weinzheimer Jansen

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    DR Daines April 16, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    I would hope that someone would do a movie about her [Clara Adams] I believe that it would be very interesting. There seems to be a lot of available information about her.

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    Albert Bright February 25, 2010 at 9:50 pm

    Great web site! I’ve loved Zeppelins since I was a boy. I thought you’d like to know I have a luncheon menu from the first flight of the Hindenburg in 1936, it’s autographed by Clara Adams and framed, along with a large photo of the Graf Zeppelin (inset with Eckner’s picture) and two Graf zeppelin postcards. The entire framed ensemble was a wedding gift to us in 1984 from a work collegue who’s father and uncle had travel aboard the Hindenburg’s maiden flight to the USA (Adams inscribed the menu: “To Henry G. Fargel with all good wishes. Clara Adams Cabin 19.” We’ve always hung this is a place of honor.

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    Dan (Airships.net) February 26, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    Sounds fascinating!

    I wonder who the father and uncle were? There were no brothers aboard Hindenburg’s maiden voyage to the USA, nor a Henry Fargel.

    Do you know the name of the father and uncle?

    Thanks for sharing this story!

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    Albert Bright February 26, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    Unfortunately I don’t know their names, worse, neither my wife nor I can remember exactly who gave it to us! I just checked the framed menu again and, yup, the hand-written inscription does say, “To Henry G. Fargel with all good wishes. Clara Adams cabin 19.” Further down the menu front, also written in the same hand, “First flight from Germany to the USA. May 6-9, 1936.” I forgot to mention the menu and photos also came with a ‘mint’ copy of Lehmann’s “Auf Luftpatrouille und Weltfahrt” – Ich kann nicht lesen der buch, mein deutsch ist jetzt sehr schlecht – schade!

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    david helms February 4, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    where is clara adams buried and does anyone know how i could possibly reach
    relatives of this special lady? thanks for a reply.

    david helms

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    Janet February 4, 2010 at 9:26 pm

    An email full of photos sent to my by a friend today mentioned at the end of the email that her ashes were scattered per her wishes and that the location was recorded, “the ocean.” Have no information regarding her family……..

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    greg goebel February 6, 2010 at 1:20 am

    David
    Clara’s father was Walter Grabau. Walter had a sister, Hedwig. Hedwig was my Great grandmother. I believe Walter and Ida (his wife) had two other children (Clara’s brother of sister) who either did not survive to adulthood or are otherwise unknown. Clara and George Lincoln Adams did not have any children that I am aware of. I think that Clara was the end of the line in the Adam’s family. I have been in contact with Dr. Albrect Bodenstein, who has an extensive ancestor tree for the Grabau’s, very impressive. Hope this helps with your question.

    Greg Goebel

    Reply

    david helms February 9, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    thanks for the info greg. i will take any information you can send me. i also might add that i have amelia
    earhardt’s autograph with the letter of authenticity to back it up. i real treasure piece. hope to hear from you soon and thanks.

    david

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    Dan McClean January 29, 2013 at 11:26 am

    David, are you aware that Amelia Earhardt’s flight that ended her life was recreated in 1997 by Linda Finch. While not the first to make the attempt, she was the first to complete the trip. She had bought and restored a Lockheed Electra 10e, the same model of aircraft as Earhardt was flying. Of course Ms. Finch had GPS and 3 different navigators (one at a time) from the Jeppson Company. She made the trip around the world in 2 1/2 months. She now resides in Winston-Salem, NC with her daughter.

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    Emy Andrew January 26, 2011 at 11:50 am

    Greg, I tried your email address, and it came back. I knew Clara and have been trying to find out more about her father, as her mother’s line is connected with my mother. She was often a guest in our home, as she sponsored my parents from Germany in 1927. I have a number of gifts from her, including a carved eagle, given to her father by his choral group or symphony. What can you share about him? Death? Where? Origin in Germany? Thanks, Emy

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    debbie harvey July 2, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    Hi David
    Just wondering if you got any response to your questions ref. where Clara Adams is buried and when she passed away????
    I am a member of a professional aviation organization and I am nominating Clara to be inducted into our Professional Aviation Pioneer Hall of Fame
    Please get back to me if you have information
    Even any still living family members
    Thank you
    Debbie

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    Pat Summers August 31, 2010 at 9:43 pm

    Debbie-Clara had her ashes strewn into the ocean.

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    debbie harvey September 4, 2010 at 6:47 pm

    Thank you for your response
    Do you know of any living family members?
    If I remember correctly she did not have any children and therefore no grandchildren
    Thank you
    Debbie

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    Jim Werkheiser May 27, 2011 at 10:33 am

    David,

    My name is Jim Werkheiser and I grew up in Tannersville, PA where Clara and George Adams lived from 1921 through 1937. (Of course, George died in 1929.) I never met her, I was only 7 years of age when she left town for Staten Island. However, I have literally fallen in love with the woman, in my old age. As far as her death, in 1971, the local newspaper, Pocono Record, and the New York newspapers indicated cremation and “ashes scattered over the Atlantic, as per her request.”
    I have written a 35 page life history of Clara with photos and made several presentations in the area, perpetuating her legacy. I am currently serving as President of Pocono and Jackson Townships Historical Society and Chairman of the History Committee of the Monre County Historical Association.

    “Long live Clara’s legacy”

    Sincerely,

    Jim

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    John Danner November 7, 2013 at 9:14 pm

    Good evening. Is it possible to obtain from you a copy of the 35 page life history you wrote about Clara Adams ? I am a life long aviation historian and am fascinated with the aviation travels of Mrs. Adams. Please advise. Thanks very much

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    Greg Goebel December 14, 2009 at 8:38 am

    Wow! I’ve been researching my family geneology for some time and now there are so many more things to know. My great grandmother was Hedwig Grabau, and of course my great grandfather, Oscar Goebel Sr. My grandfather was Oscar Goebel Jr, and his wife Jesse Fitzgerald. My father was Kenneth Goebel and his wife Katheryn von Herringen. I can remember Art Goebel coming by the house and visiting with my dad.

    I would like to receive more information from other relatives about the Grabau’s or Adams family. Thanks for the great article and pictures.

    Greg Goebel, goebelgreg@hotmail.com

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    david helms July 4, 2010 at 9:28 pm

    thanks for a reply. i would like to check out the family tree information. let me know if you find more info and thanks.

    david

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    Pete Nichols October 25, 2009 at 8:42 pm

    My mother recently passed away and in going through her things we came across an old letter. Her maiden name was Buechling and her family was from Munich. On the front of the envelope was typed the following.

    Clara Adams carried this letter on the Inaugural Trans-Atlantic Passenger Flight aboard the DIXIE Clipper – the first leg of her globe-girdling air trip.

    Inside is a type-written letter signed by Clara and addressed to her Vesta Aner in New York.

    The postmark on the envelope is dated July 13, 1939.

    Reply

    Danielle Hipsley June 15, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    My mothers maiden name was Buechling. My mother tried to research her family tree from her father (Bernard J. Buechling) to very little success. She has since passed away for 11 years now. Recently I have been trying to research it myself. I haven’t had much success since Buechling isn’t a common name you find here in the U.S. Any help to put the Buechling family tree together would be of great help for me. I will Thank You ahead of time

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    Robert C. Kiefer October 1, 2009 at 4:11 pm

    As a young U. S. Navy officer and Navy pilot I flew in ZW-1 out of Lakehurst N.J. in the Blimp equiped Airborn Early Squadron ZW-1.Blimps were ZSG 2W’s. My comanding officer CDR Charles Mills, a wonderful man and two time Harmon Trophy winner, who had 1st hand association with Hugo Eckener. CDR Mills had a lot of interesting stories about the early days of LTA.

    Lighter than air aviation was an interesting experienc, to say the least.
    Bob Kiefer

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    Ray Hoenge January 9, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    Is this Bob Kiefer from Sears in Neptune, NJ

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    Robert C. Kiefer January 11, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    No I have bought of tools from them though.

    After I left active duty I spent some time at NARTU and finally stopped going to weekend warrior activies when I started my own business in Houston Texas and have been happily unemployed ever since.

    Reply

    david helms July 4, 2010 at 9:30 pm

    can you share info with me regarding dr. hugo eckener? i have always been fascinated with his unparalled knowledge about airships. thanks for a reply.

    david

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    Joseph F. Laufer September 14, 2009 at 5:19 pm

    Reading of aviation activities of so long ago bring to me the dreams I had when i was a very young boy.In 1927 when Charles Lindberg made his transatlantic flight I it was then that I decided that I wanted to become a pilot.I was 4 years old then and the desire to fly never left me.With the start of WW2 I entered the military as a pilot trainee and realized my lifelong dream.I am still facinated by reading stories of the early aviation pioneers

    Reply

    david helms February 6, 2010 at 7:27 pm

    can you possibly share some things you remember about charles lindbergh with me? also, seems as if you had an interesting military background. would you mind sharing some of those experiences with me and many thanks.

    david

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    George Hawkins September 4, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    I have a number of first flight covers from those Clipper flights from San Francisco to Manila. Too bad there isn’t one of the many that she must have autographed. She sounds like a lovely person to have known. I imagine my grandfather, who was involved in establishing those Clipper flights, must have known her.

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    Gordon Shannon August 28, 2009 at 1:45 am

    I received the story of Clara Adams via an email from a friend as we had been talking in general of events between WW1 and WW2 and of some recent published pictures taken by LIFE Magazine in Germany just prior to WW2 and this led to the story of Clara Adams.
    She in some ways reminds me of the fictional character ‘Auntie Mame’ due to her obvious strong personality and her aim to be her own woman and flying was her way of achieving this goal.
    What a period she lived in and the people she met along the way.
    As Robbie Brewington in a previous comment said that we have forgotten how courageous and certainly trailblazing she and other women like Amelia Earhart were.
    Who ever would have thought that flying in the Wonder of the day, The Graf Zepplin that the passengers instead of being in Silk and Satins and Full Dress Dinner Suits were in fact freezing with chattering teeth wrapped in blankets but Clara’s description makes it seem as tho we are there living it with her.
    She certainly seemed to have lived a very full life and where better for her ashes spread but by an aeroplane over the Oceans of the World.
    I sincerly hope her fantastic collection of letters and other memorabilla is being well preserved and displayed as a well deserved tribute to the Amazing Clara Adams.

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    AR November 11, 2009 at 4:45 am

    Mr. Shannon, while reading some of the comments about Clara Adams I saw your email saying you hoped her things were being well kept. I read recently that all of her writings, postcards, letters, etc. are in the McDermott Library, at the University of Texas in Dallas. I didn’t double check that but the website was legit where I saw it. I saw AMELIA, the movie, this past week and in seeing some of the pictures of Ms Earhart with Clara Adams it is amazing how very much the makeup people made Hilary Swank look like Amelia. I found Clara Adams to be a very interesting woman – she was certainly a brave woman but also a very wealthy widow. Her husband, George Adams was President of several American Leather Tanning Co’s, was 40 years older than Clara and died in 1929 leaving her VERY wealthy. So that is how she was able to take all of the flights she took. AR

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    Gordon Shannon November 13, 2009 at 4:28 am

    Although she was a very wealthy woman changes nothing regarding the way she chose to live her life.
    She could have lived at home surrounded by the luxuries of the day,traveling only to vary her daily routine to those places frequented by her ‘Social Set’.
    But she didnt and not only did she travel, she documented those travels with great detail and comments that provide us with a window into a time past.
    I perhaps worded my comments on the retention of her memoribilia a bit poorly at the University Library, maybe inferring that it could be better.
    I apologise if that was the impression I gave as I meant I hope they (the Library) are able to preserve and display them for future generations to see and enjoy the life of Clara Adams.

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    AR November 13, 2009 at 5:32 am

    I didn’t realize that you indeed knew where her papers and memorabilia was when I wrote and that is the ONLY reason I replyed to you, just to let you know where they were and being well taken care of. She was an amazing woman and I loved the way she was able to live her life, as she was doing something she truly enjoyed.
    Last night I saw the new documentary at our local Air Museum on the life of Pancho Barnes. While her life was much different than Clara Adams, she was one of best known women in aviation in her time. The documentary premiered in the Los Angeles area and came to the Palm Springs Air Museum by request and one that all we “aviation” people enjoyed….she was a One of a Kind woman and having been around aviation all my life I had been hearing about her for years. She was a “first” in a lot of the early aviation adventures and was a friend of Amelia Earhart’s or possibly I should say they were acquaintances. Pancho’s papers, personal info has been in hiding for over 30 years and everyone thought it was burned when her ranch exploded in fire during a time when the government wanted her land for an addition to Edwards Air Force Base in the Mojave Desert. But she feared what might happen to her place so she removed all papers, etc and they were not discovered until after her death. Interesting story and very well done in the documentary. Most of the test pilots I know were in the movie. At least the ones who are still alive, others mentioned as being friends with her such as Jimmie Doolittle whom I had the priviledge of knowing both him and his wife. Not name dropping, just stating that she loved all pilots, especially test pilots.

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    Gordon Shannon November 13, 2009 at 8:34 pm

    I was aware of the location of Clara Adams memorabilia as it was mentioned in the articles.
    I wasnt aware from the article of just how well it was displayed or stored.
    Those women like Amelia Earhart, Pancho Barnes and Australia’s Nancy Bird Walton who only passed away recently were as they say ‘At the Coal Face’ of flying proving that flights could be made over Jungles, mountains, deserts and the vast areas of the world’s Oceans and that women could make those flights.
    Clara Adams however took away the image of the knee length Flying Boots, Jodpurs,Googles,Leather Jacket and helmeted Aviatrix and instead wore the ladies fashions of her day and wore them with style showing that Flying had ‘Come of Age’, even if she did near freeze in that unheated canvas walled Zepplin.
    The flights Clara Adams traveled on may not have been so dangerous as the first proving flights were but there was still quite a high element of risk present in both the craft and over areas where little was know about the local conditions.
    Even today with our far advances in technology since those magnificent Aviatrix’s and Clara Adam’s day , things can and do go wrong but fortunately rarely.

    Robbie Brewington August 27, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    In this age, with women commanding Space Shuttles and serving aboard the International Space Station, it seems so odd and quaint that such a fuss would be made about a woman who simply flew on airplanes and dirigibles. We forget that what is normal for women now would have seemed like outrageous fantasy to the women of only a few decades ago. We forget what courageous trailblazers women like Clara were. Thanks for telling her story!!

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    Mary Wanner August 24, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    Can anyone tell me when she died and where did she live in Cincinnati?

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    Dan (Airships.net) August 25, 2009 at 11:28 am

    Clara Adams died in 1971.

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    Herman De Wulf June 12, 2009 at 1:38 am

    Congratulations on an interesting piece of aviation history. I used to work for a newspaper in Belgium (1960-1992) that published articles she wrote on crossing the atlantic in the Hindenurg, I discovered. I think this was in 1936. In those days one could become famous by merely flying as a passenger!

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    david helms July 4, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    hi. enjoyed reading you post article. do you know where i might secure one of those articles on the hindenburg crossing the atlantic? thanks for a response.

    david

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    Herman De Wulf July 5, 2010 at 2:47 am

    The Bibliothèque Royale (National Library) in Brussels keeps a copy of old newspapers printed in Belgium. They can be read on the spot. Photocopies can be obtained. The address is: Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique, Boulevard de L’Empereur 4, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium. Tel.: 32-2-5195311.

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    Richard Hamilton February 20, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    Clara Adams was also a relative of mine. She was a cousin from my mother’s side (I am a descendent of Goebel and Grabau). I still have many family photos of the Goebels and Grabaus…one of them taken at the family Christmas dinner here in San Diego, 1953 with Clara. I also have the original photo of Clara at a celebration dinner in New York in honor of Col. Arthur C. Goebel (her cousin) for his successful transcontinental flight from Los Angeles to New York. Most other photos are of the Goebels and Grabaus dating back to early as 1875…and lots of photos related to Art Goebel’s 1927 flight from California to Hawaii.

    Thank you for your article and the effort you have made in keeping this history alive. Regards, Richard

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    Dr. Albrecht Bodenstein September 19, 2009 at 9:45 am

    Hello Richard !
    Clara Adams geb. Grabau ist auch eine Verwandte von mir. Sie ist die Tochter von Walter Grabau. Ihre Großeltern waren Ferdinand Graubau und Auguste von Hindenburg. Meine Urgroßmutter war Doris Goedicke geb.Grabau. Die Eltern von Ferdinand und Doris Grabau waren Johann Andreas Christian Grabau und Catharina Grabau geb. Süßkraut,sie hatten insgesamt 8 Kinder. Catharina wird
    auch ” Retterin Magdeburgs “genannt, da durch Sie die Eroberung der Festung Magdeburg durch Napoleon im Oktober 1806 verhindert wurde. Liebe Grüße Albrecht

    Clara Adams born Grabau is also a relative of mine. She is the daughter of Walter Grabau. Her grandparents were Ferdinand Graubau and Augusta von Hindenburg. My great grandmother was born Doris Goedicke, born Grabau. The parents of Ferdinand and Doris Grabau were Johann Andreas Christian Grabau and Catharina Grabau, born Süßkraut, who had a total of 8 children. Catherina is also the “savior of Magdeburg”, since she prevented the capture of the fortress of Magdeburg by Napoleon in October 1806.

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    Greg Goebel December 15, 2009 at 8:26 am

    Dr. Albrecht Bodenstein,

    I am interested in filling out my family tree and you have added many names that are helpful. Is our family of Grabau’s related to J.A.A. Grabau? There was also a Ferdinand married to Maude Keeler, his father’s name was Christian, do you know if he is related?

    Hedwig Grabau was my great grandmother.
    Thanks,

    Greg Goebel, goebelgreg@hotmail.com

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    Emy Andrew January 25, 2011 at 11:58 pm

    Geehter Herr Dr. Bodenstein, Ich bin auch verwandt mit Clara Grabau Adams durch meine Mutter’s Seite. Ihre Mutter kam durch Sinzheim, Baden, wie meine Mutter’s Familie. Sie hat meine Eltern nach USA kommen lassen in 1927, und war öfters zum Besuch bei uns. Ich wusste sehr wenig von Walther, und wäre dankbar von der Familie mehr zu lernen. (Wo war er geboren? Seine Familie? Seine Musik? Sein Tod? Wann und wo?)Vielen Dank im voraus! Emy

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    david helms February 5, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    how can i go about getting an original photo of clara adams? thanks for a reply.

    david

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    david helms July 4, 2010 at 9:35 pm

    hi richard. would you be willing to share any photos mentioned in your post? i am an avid airship researcher. thanks for a reply.

    david

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    Emy Andrew January 25, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    I am also a relative. My mother was related to Ida Amalia Weiss, and Clara was always spoken of as a cousin. The relationship is not close, but as friends, they were quite close. Emy

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    Dan (admin) December 21, 2008 at 8:19 pm

    Thanks for your comment! About ten years ago, I received a letter from a Robert Prince, who was also related to Clara Adams, but I lost touch with him. Are you related? In any case, thanks for your visiting the site. (How did you find it?) I do have a few other photos of your aunt which I have not posted to the site; let me know if you would like me to email you copies. Best regards, Dan

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    Arthur Prince December 21, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    Clara Adams was a aunt of mine from my fathers side of the family. She sponsersd my father from Germany in the 20′s. We sat around the table many times hearing her stories of her travels and adventures. She would visit us in N.Y. and share time with her. Thank you for writing the story about my aunt, It was a joy reading it

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    Marty Vale September 8, 2009 at 2:30 am

    Hi Richard,
    I just e-mailed this to Arthur Prince then saw that you are also a family member of Clara’s. My maternal family is from Fulleren, Alsace-Lorraine which is sometimes Germany. I’m very into aviaiton and find it of great interest to run into someone who is connected as I am. When I was a little girl in the 1950′s I wanted to become a stewardess on one of the Clipper Ships. I even got one of the Pan Am hats and pin for Christmas. One day I was looking up at my kites (owned a small kite making business) and wanted to be at the end of the string not on the ground. It was about then that I thought of my childhood dream of flight. I acted on it and now have my license and am moving up the ranks from Sport Pilot to Private.

    I admire your aunt. Can understand the point of view to be a passenger but my personality is to hold on to the controls.

    Marty Vale
    Greater Seattle 99s

    September 8th, 2009 at 2:16 am

    I just finished reading this website and one on Hugo Eckener, the zepellin pilot on the LZ127 that your aunt flew on from NY to Europe. I am a 99 in Seattle and am preparing to do a presentation about her to our group of lady pilots. I just hosted a fellow 99 woman pilot here in Seattle who broke the world record flying around the world in her small plane (Mooney) in 8 days 12 hours including fueling and sleep. She was so inspiring. I just learned to fly two years ago just before I turned 60 years old and am very active in my aviation community here. Our presentation is to help others fly into Canada (big hurdles since 9/11 even now) and tell of CarolAnn’s flight which was to raise funds for ALS (Lou Gherigs Disease). I’ll do a lead in about Clara and then our next presentation will be in the next few months. Did you know that the 99s were a group of women pilots who joined together in 1929 to help foster the aspirations of women pilots at that time? Ninety nine of the 122 women pilots met in New Jersey and elected Amelia Earhard as their first president. Your aunt was certainly instrumental in creating the desire for commercial aviation. Too bad the accommodation are not the same as they once were but then again the cost is certainly lower. We get there but the getting there is not as leisure. I flew to the east coast in a small 172 two summers ago and it was so much fun. Took a while.

    I have an uncle who was a commercial pilot in Texas and lost his life in 1935 flying the governor of Texas. We both have aviation history in our family.

    Marty Vale
    marlene_vale@hotmail.com

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    david helms February 6, 2010 at 7:32 pm

    hi. what can you share with me about dr hugo eckener? what a genius he must have been. do you also know where i might get original photos of dr eckener and the early airships? thanks for a reply and congratulations on your amazing longevity.
    david

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    david helms July 4, 2010 at 9:38 pm

    hi . hope you make a 100 and more. sounds like you have some terrific information on historical aviation. is there any way you could share some articles, photos, etc? hope to hear back from you and thanks.

    david

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    Emy Andrew January 25, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    And we heard about you! My parents were Otto and Olga Schlageter, also sponsored by Clara Adams. She made a huge difference in our lives.

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    AR November 13, 2009 at 10:37 pm

    I agree with you and admire Clara Adams for the lady she was, truly a lady. It would have been a pleasure knowing her, and even better to have been able to travel with her. AR

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