Eddie August Schneider (1911-1940) Aviator
Eddie Schneider was born October 20, 1911 on Second Avenue, and 17th Street in New York City. Later his family moved to Red Bank, New Jersey where he attended grade school. From there his family moved to Jersey City, New Jersey and he graduated from Dickinson High School. In 1928 his mother passed away and his father took him, and his sister, for a visit to Germany and Norway to visit relatives. It was in Germany that he had his first airplane flight and it was then the "bug" bit him. Eddie received his flying instructions at Roosevelt Field in 1928. In October 1929 he received his commercial pilot's license and so became the youngest commercial pilot in the United States at age eighteen. He also received in that year, his aircraft and engine mechanic's license and so again he became the youngest licensed aircraft mechanic. In August 1930 he succeded in breaking Frank Goldsborough's Junior Transcontinental record from New York to Los Angeles in 29 hours and 55 minutes, lowering the previous record by 4 hours and 22 minutes. He made the return trip in 27 hours and 19 minutes, lowering the previous record by 1 hour and 36 minutes. His total time for the round trip was 57 hours and 14 minutes, thus breaking the preceding record for the round trip, which was 62 hours and 58 minutes. His A.I.I. license was signed personally by Wilbur Wright. Following his transcontinental flight, Eddie flew to Chicago where he was one of the ouststanding personalities at the National Air Races. While there, he was highly complimented for his ability to avoid an air crash over the crowded grandstand, a crash which had it occured, would have cost a number of lives. Schneider had just taken off in his Cessna (with a Warner Scarab engine) monoplane from the Chicago field bound for the balloon races at Cleveland, when he saw the crowd scatter below. Noticing the panic, he looked up and saw the 40 foot left wing of a twenty passenger Buranelli transport plane directly over his. The youthful aviator saw passengers in the Buranelli scramble to the other side of the cabin to tilt the the sloping wing. The danger of the crash was great, and in an instant, Schneider sent his plane diving just as the Buranelli's wing scraped his. The crash was averted by the dip. The officials said his quick action in dipping his plane close to the ground and then pulling clear of the grandstand had probably averted the most serious accident in the races. He then entered in the Ford National Reliability Tour, the youngest pilot to have ever been so honored by an aircraft company. These tours were in reality effeciency races for commercial airplanes flying over a course of five thousand miles, which undoubtably made these races the longest commercial aircraft races in the world. Schneider completed the tour with further honors, winning first place for single engine aircraft and the Great Lakes Trophy. Incidently, he was the first pilot to fly a Cessna throughout the itinerary. Others had been entered in previous tours, but none had finished. Returning to New York, Schneider put in considerable time appearing in smaller air shows, where he attracted hordes of boys and girls to whom he spoke on any and all occasions, impressing upon them always the fact that any one of them could do what he was doing; that aviation belonged to them; that they should grasp the opportunity presented to them. In 1931, the Ford National Reliability Air Tour found Eddie once again a Cessna entry. During the race, the propellor broke and, causing him to lose his engine and so forced him out of the race for three days. This happened over the mountains of Kentucky. After pleading and cajoling with the Warner Company in Detroit, he made the neccesary repairs with a new propellor and had been given permission to reenter the race. Naturally when he reentered the race, he found himself in last place and way behind the leaders, but he gained on his fellow pilots until on the last day, he found himself in first place again for a single engine aircraft and was the winner the second time of the Great Lakes Trophy. In 1932 he became chief pilot for the Hoover Business League. After that he became a student instructor until 1935 when he leased the Jersey City Airport in New Jersey and managed it and conducted his own flying school, aerial photography and charter work. At that time he one of the largest flying schools in the East with over one hundred and twenty-five students. And so he carried on. No flying club was too small or insignificant to win his willing cooperation in the furtherance of their plans. It was at the meeting of the Jersey Journal Model Plane Club that he met his wife, Gretchen Hahnen, who then lived in Jersey City, but was from Des Moine, Iowa. They were married in New York City on June 02, 1934. In December 1935, after a unsuccesful battle to save Jersey City Airport from becoming a stadium, he did exhibition flights and was an instructor at several New Jersey airports. By 1936, flying jobs were hard to come by. Schneider was "invited" to go to Spain and fly for the Spanish Loyalists. He accompanied Bert Acost, Gordon Berry and Freddie Lord. They left New York on November 11, 1936 and arrived in Spain a week or so later. There he flew antiquated planes, but got disgusted and gave up, and came home, in January 1937. Between then and June of 1940 he bacame a mechanic for American Airlines at La Guardia Field, but his heart was not into it, he wanted to fly. He applied to the US Government for a job as a civilian instructor for the Army and was assigned to Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn. On December 23, 1940, while instructing a student and coming in for a landing, he was hit in the rear by a Navy Stearman which brought Eddie, and his student, to their untimely death. When the Navy plane landed, it still had Schneider's plane's left wing in their undercarriage. And so, aviation, as an industry, owes a debt of gratitude to it's younger contingent, such as Frank Goldsborough, Bob Buck and Dick James and others who followed, and to these youthful trail blazers who were constantly winning new recruits to the ranks of those who look uopn aviation as a part of themselves and to whom the industry must continue to look for its new leaders.
Source: Special Collections, McDermott Library, The University of Texas at Dallas. Used with permission.
Local pilot killed. Eddie Schneider and passenger die in crash. Eddie A. Schneider, 29, veteran pilot and former holder of the junior transcontinental speed record for airplanes, was instantly killed yesterday afternoon when a small monoplane in which he was giving a refresher course to another pilot was struck by U.S. Naval Reserve plane at Floyd Bennett Airport, Brooklyn. Schneider’s plane, one wing sheared off, plummeted in a tight spin into an inlet of Jamaica Bay, causing instant death to Schneider and his student, George W. Herzog, 37. Schneider, a native of New York City was a resident of Jersey City until a few years ago. He became interested in aviation while still a student at Dickenson High School, Jersey City, causing him to leave school when 15 to go to work as a plane mechanic at old Roosevelt Field Hempstead, Long Island. Schneider during his career in aviation broke the East-West, West-East and round trip junior transcontinental records in 1930 in his famous red Cessna monoplane, when only 18. He crossed the continent from Westfield Airport, New Jersey, to Los Angeles in 29 hours and 41 minutes, breaking the record of the late Frank Goldsborough. Eddie was at one time the youngest licensed commercial pilot and competed in air races and meets with men far more experienced and older than he was, after carrying off first honors. In the Ford National Reliability Tours of 1930 and 1931. Schneider with his red Cessna, carried off the Great Lakes Trophy one year, and then took first place the next year. In one of the air tours a defect in a propeller caused the engine of his plane to break loose while flying over a mountainous section of Kentucky, and Schneider made a forced landing in a corn patch on a side of the mountain. A new engine was rushed to him and after an extremely difficult takeoff, which experienced airmen, said was not possible, he went on to win first place in the tour. Schneider in 1934 became the manager of the old Jersey City Airport at Droyers Point, operating the filed for a period of a little more than a year. While at the airport he taught many Hudson County students how to fly. Schneider had a narrow escape in 1935 when a Travelair biplane in which he and a student were taking off from the airport landed in Newark Bay after the motor suddenly went dead at 100 feet of attitude. The plane was only slightly damaged in the forced water landing. Schneider and the student Al Clemmings, wading to shore. In 1936 Eddie with Bert Acosta and three other pilots, enlisted in the Yankee Escadrille of the Loyalist Air Corps in Spain. For several months Schneider was flying antiquated planes, which had been rigged up with racks, dropping bombs on military objectives of the Franco forces. Schneider finally became thoroughly disgusted with the Communist regime, which he said was directing the Loyalist forces, and after many difficulties, returned to this country. Since returning from Spain, Schneider, a licensed airplane mechanic since he was 15, worked for American Airlines, first at Newark Airport and then at La Guardia Airport, New York City, first as a mechanic, then as instrument inspector. About six months ago he resigned his post with American Airlines to take a position as student instructor with the Archie Baxter Flying Service teaching Civil Aeronautics Authority students to fly. Yesterday afternoon Schneider took Herzog, a resident of New Hyde Park, Long Island, up for a refresher course. Herzog, holder of a commercial license, had allowed the license to lapse, and was required to take dual flying time before his license would be renewed. Schneider was flying at about 600 feet altitude, coming in for a landing, when a United States Naval Reserve biplane piloted by Ensign Kenneth A, Kuehler, 25, of Rochester, Ohio, was observer, struck the tail assembly of Schneider’s tandem Piper Cub. The tails surfaces and left wing of Schneider’s plane were badly damaged and as the two planes separated after the mid-air collision, the small monoplane went in a tight spin, striking Deep Creek several hundred feet from Flatbush Avenue and sinking. The Naval Reserve plane was able to land at the airport. Airport emergency crews raced to the spot where Schneider’s plane had submerged and the bodies of Schneider and Herzog were taken from the plane within a very few minutes after the crash. Attempts were made to to revive the two, but a Kings County Hospital ambulance intern pronounced both dead on arrival at the scene. It is believed that both were killed by the impact of the plane with the water. The bodies were taken to Kings County Hospital and Schneider will be released today and brought to Jersey City for funeral services. Herzog is survived by a widow and two small children. Schneider lived in Jersey City at 114 Carlton Avenue in the Hudson City section when he established the transcontinental records.
2 die as planes crash at field. Eddie Schneider, who flew at 15, is killed when his craft and Navy trainer collide. Passenger also victim US ship is landed safely at Floyd Bennett Airport despite damaged wings. Eddie Schneider, who started flying when he was 15 years old and set a junior transcontinental record in 1930 at the age of 18, was killed with a student passenger yesterday when their light training plane was in collision with a Naval Reserve plane, also on a training flight, just west of Floyd Bennett Field. The Naval Reserve plane landed safely at the field but Schneider's plane went into a spin, tore off a wing, and crashed into Deep Creek, a few hundred feet across Flatbush Avenue from the city airport in Brooklyn. Both Schneider and his passenger, George W. Herzog, 37, a contractor living at 535 North Second Street, New Hyde Park, Long Island, were dead when their bodies were pulled from the submerged wreckage. At the Naval Reserve base at Floyd Bennett Field it was said the Navy biplane, a Stearman trainer, had been piloted by Ensign Kenneth A, Kuehner, 25, of Minister, Ohio, with Second Class Seaman Frank Newcomer, of Rochester, Ohio, as a passenger. The right lower wing of the naval plane, the left upper wing and the propeller were damaged. The third accident, in two weeks in which a Naval Reserve plane based at Floyd Bennett Field was involved, it brought the comment from Dock Commissioner John McKenzie that it was the sort of thing to be expected “where there are training: flights at an airport.” “That is the point that Mayor La Guardia has been making". Mr. McKenzie said, "in his efforts to keep training away from commercial fields" Police said the witnesses to the accident were agreed that the Naval Reserve plane was crossing above the plane piloted by Schneider, a high-wing Piper Tandem Cub monoplane, as the two approached the field for a landing 600 feet above Deep Creek, Schneider's plane went into a tight spin as the two planes disengaged after colliding, the witnesses said, appeared to straighten out and then plummeted into the water as its left wing tore loose. Many would-be rescuers were on the scene within, a few moments, including police, Coast Guardsmen and fliers from Floyd Bennett Field. The bodies of the two men were pulled quickly from the wreckage and onto a half-submerged barge near which the plane fell, but it appeared both had been killed when the plane hit the water. Joseph Hanley, first assistant district attorney of Kings County, opened an investigation at the scene and a naval board of inquiry, headed by Commander H. R. Bowes, was ordered convened by the Navy Department in Washington. Schneider lived at 32-50 Seventy-third Street, Jackson Heights, Queens. He leaves a widow. Herzog leaves a widow and two children. He had been flying some time, holding a limited commercial pilot's license, but had enrolled for a refresher course with the Archie Baxter Flying Service, Inc., owner of the plane. Schneider was an instructor at the school. The bodies of the two men were taken to Floyd Bennett Field pending funeral arrangements. Schneider first gained public attention as a flier in the Summer of 1930 when he announced plans for an attempt to break the junior transcontinental east-west record of 34 hours 57 minutes set the year before by 15-year-old Frank Goldsborough, who was later killed. Taking off from Westfield, New Jersey, August 14, he landed at Los Angeles four days later with a new elapsed time mark of 29 hours 55 minutes. He then flew the west-east passage in 27 hours 19 minutes to better Goldsborough's time for that flight and also for the round trip. He continued active in aviation, competing in National Air Tours, races, and as an instructor. He went to Spain in 1936 to fly for the Loyalists, but returned the next year without having collected the $1,500-a-month pay that was promised him. He and other American fliers were looked on with suspicion by many of the Loyalists, he said, because they were not Communists. Schneider had a narrow escape from death May 15, 1935, when the engine of his training plane failed and it fell into Newark Bay with him and a student passenger shortly after they had taken off from Jersey City Airport, of which he then was manager. Schneider's father, Emil, a Jersey City banker, financed his son's transcontinental flight after having first opposed his efforts to become a flier. The boy had quit school at 15 and worked as a mechanic at Roosevelt Field, Mineola, Long Island, and at the Westfield airport to secure money for flying lessons. He was the youngest licensed flier in the country when he received a limited commercial license shortly after his eighteenth birthday in 1929.
Source: New York Times, New York, December 24, 1940. Transcribed by Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) on February 10, 2005. Used with permission.
3 U.S. airmen here to explain aid to loyalists. Acosta, Berry, Schneider fly to capital with their attorney. Back from the broken harvests of the bloody Spanish war, the famed triumvir of American air fighters – Bert Acosta, Gordon Berry and Eddie Schneider – flew into Washington Airport yesterday all set to do some tall explaining to the Federal Government. Apparently none the worse for the wear and tear of the bitter civil conflict, now in its sixth month, the trio who quit because "it would be suicide to continue" and because their actions “might not be in tune with the spirit of neutrality", talked freely with newsmen about the reasons that motivated their enlistment. "I was broke, hungry, jobless," 25-year-old Schneider, who is married and has a family in New York, said. "Yet despite the fact that all three of us are old-time aviators who did our part for the development of the industry were left out in the cold in the Administration’s program of job making. Can you blame us for accepting the lucrative Spanish offer?" While other airmen – British and French – were afforded a two-week courtesy for training, American fliers were just shown to loyalist hangars, given a plane and and ordered to do their stuff. "We were flying old crates," Acosta said, “while other nationalists were given modern ships. But for the protection afforded us by Soviet pursuit planes we would not be alive now to tell you this tale." All three had the highest praise for the Russian flyers and nothing but scorn for the Moors. "They are the traditional enemies of the Spaniard," Berry said. "Spain is not fighting a civil war but an invasion.” Denying news reports that they dropped bombs over Burgos as a Christmas Day greeting for the fascist rebel junta, the fliers said that they spent the holidays in Barcelona, the capital of the autonomous state of Barcelona. Once they stared death in the face. That was in the Catalan capitol when all unwittingly they tuned in on Rome in a restaurant radio and had a band blare forth with the Fascist anthem. "It was a close call." The youthful Schneider said, "we almost got shot as agents provocateur." Unpaid, and hearing of repercussions back home from the British Ambassador in Bilboa, the trio made up their minds to quit the conflict for good. "This was a mess," Schneider explained, "and there was always that never-ending jockeying for the power among the factions to contend with, it got to the point where we did not know who we were fighting and why, and you can say that we are damn glad to be back." The three fliers were accompanied here by their attorney, Colonel Lewis Landes, of New York, an officer in the Reserve Corps. They came here voluntarily to see various Government officials, but the State Department not on their calling list. In the afternoon they had lunch at the Army and Navy Club and discussed modern fighting methods with Colonel Richards. The latter was interested in the war value of pursuit ships and questioned the trio on the observations. Tomorrow all three have an appointment with Senator Ashurst on neutrality legislation. They also will be questioned by the Justice and Commerce departments, but they did not disclose the nature of the conferences. Regarding the pay owed them by the Spanish Government, Landes disclosed that all three received "about $500 apiece" Monday from "the Spanish counsel" in New York. He did not disclose the latter’s identity. Meanwhile, representative McCormack (Democrat), of Massachusetts, was requesting of Secretary of State Cordell Hull a State Department inquiry into whether a Spanish consul in New York had paid American aviators to serve in the Spanish civil war. In a letter he demanded a withdrawal of the counsel’s credentials if there had been any violation of the United States or international law. McCormack told newsmen that a special House investigating committee, of which he is chairman, had revealed that "certain foreign governments" had no compunction about using their diplomatic representatives to this country to further their plans and "violate international laws."
Source: The Washington Post, January 20, 1937. Transcribed by Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) on February 26, 2005. Used with permission.