Friday, March 17, 2006

Eddie August Schneider (1911-1940) biography

Eddie August Schneider (1911-1940) Record Holding Aviator; Fought for the Loyalists in the Spanish Civil War; Died in a Plane Crash (b. October 20, 1911, 2nd Avenue and 17th Street, Manhattan, New York County, New York City, New York, USA - d. December 23, 1940, Deep Creek and Flatbush Avenue, Floyd Bennett Field, Brooklyn, Kings County, Long Island, New York City, New York, USA)

Birth and siblings:
Eddie was born in 1911 at 2nd Avenue and 17th Street in Manhattan in New York. His father was Emil August Schneider (1886-1955), a banker and stock broker, born in Bielefeld, Germany. His mother was Inga Pedersen (1885-1927), who was born in Farsund, Norway. Inga was the daughter of Peder Andreas Pedersen (1830-?) and Serine Larsdatter (1840-?) aka Severina Larsdatter. Eddie had one full sibling: Alice Violetta Schneider (1913-2002) aka Alice Paula Schneider, who married John Harms (1905-1985). Emil remarried after Inga died. Emil's second wife was Margaret Jacobsen (1896-1989), also from Farsund, Norway.

Early years:
The family moved from Manhattan to Red Bank, New Jersey, and then they were in Jersey City, New Jersey by 1920. That year they were living at 2728 Hudson Boulevard and Emil owned a delicatessen. Living with them were Clara Schutz (1896-?), a neice, who had emigrated 1n 1910 from Norway; and Lena Adneson (1882-?), a cousin, who emigrated from Norway in 1916. Eddie graduated from Dickinson High School in Jersey City in 1927, the same year that his mother died. After his mother's death, Eddie and his parents visited Bielefeld, Germany and Farsund, Norway to visit with relatives. In Germany Eddie went on an airplane ride and then aviation became his obsession. In 1929 he trained at Roosevelt Field on Long Island and became the youngest person in the United States to receive a commercial pilot's license. That same year he also received a mechanics license, becoming the youngest licensed mechanic in New York. In April 1930 Eddie was living in Hempstead, Long Island with a German friend named Carl Schenider (1898-?). Carl was not related, and was working as a mechanic. Emil August Schneider and Margaret Jacobsen were living at 114 Carlton Avenue in Jersey City in 1930. Eddie flew a red Cessna monoplane number C9092.

Transcontinental air speed record:
The New York Times reported on July 30, 1930 that Eddie intended to fly to the Pacific coast and back that August. On August 25, 1930 Eddie set the round-trip transcontinental air speed record for pilots under the age of twenty-one years in his Cessna using a Warner Scarab engine. The New York Times covered each of his refueling stops in the race. He flew from Westfield, New Jersey on August 14, 1930 to Los Angeles, California in 4 days with a combined flying time of 29 hours and 55 minutes. He lowered the East to West record by 4 hours and 22 minutes. He then made the return trip from Los Angeles to Roosevelt Airfield in New York in 27 hours and 19 minutes, lowering the West to East record by 1 hour and 36 minutes. His total elapsed time for the round trip was 57 hours and 14 minutes, breaking the preceding record for the round trip. Frank H. Goldsborough held the previous record which was 62 hours and 58 minutes. When Eddie landed his first words were to his father: "Hello Pop, I made it". Robert Buck said on June 28, 2005: "I didn't know him well and only met [him] a couple of times, but I remember him as a quiet, good looking blonde, and very modest. I believe he was a credit to aviation and I always admired him."

1930 National Air Tour:
After setting the transcontinental speed record he entered in the 1930 Ford National Reliability Air Tour in Chicago, which ran from August 23, 1930 to September 1, 1930. He won the Great Lakes Trophy. Nancy Hopkins also flew in the tour that year.

1931 National Air Tour:
In 1931 Eddie again participated in the Ford National Reliability Air Tour in his Cessna. A defect in his engine forced his landing while flying over a mountainous section of Kentucky, and he made a forced landing in a corn patch on the side of the mountain. A new engine was sent to him and after an difficult takeoff, he went on to win first place for single engine airplanes, and finishing third overall. Time magazine wrote:
"Sensation of the meet was the youngster Eddie Schneider, 19, who fell into last place by a forced landing of his Cessna and a three-day delay in Kentucky, then fought his way back to finish third, ahead of all other light planes."

Hoover Air League:
In 1932 he went to work for the Hoover Air League.

He married Gretchen Hahnen (1902-1986) in New York City on June 2, 1934 at the New York Municipal Building in Manhattan. Their marriage certificate was number "14174". Gretchen was the daughter of Zora M. Hahnen (1882-1962) and was originally from Des Moines, Iowa. She was a member the Jersey City Young Woman's Christian Association (YWCA) and was director of the Aviation Club of The Jersey Journal, Junior Club Magazine. Eddie met her at an aviation function. They did not have any children.

Jersey City Airport:
In 1935 Eddie leased the Jersey City Airport and ran his flying school from there until the field was converted into a sports stadium using WPA money. Eddie was taking off in a Travelair biplane with his student, Al Clemmings, when the motor died. From an altitude of 100 feet they crashed into Newark Bay, but were unhurt and were able to walk ashore.

Spanish Civil War:
In 1936, Eddie left for Spain to fly in the Yankee Squadron for the Spanish Loyalists in the Spanish Civil War. He was living at 50 Jones Street in Jersey City at the time. Eddie was promised he would be paid $1,500 each month and given a bonus of $1,000 for every rebel plane he shot down. He was never paid and he returned to the US in January of 1937. Others who flew for the loyalists included: Bert Acosta, Gordon Berry, and Frederick Lord. When he returned he was questioned by Chief Assistant United States Attorney, John F. Dailey on January 15, 1937 in New York. Eddie's lawyer was Colonel Lewis Landes. On January 20, 1937, Eddie, Bert, and Gordon flew to Washington, DC and had to testify again. When talking to reporters Eddie said: "I was broke, hungry, jobless ... yet despite the fact that all three of us are old-time aviators who did our part for the development of the industry, we were left out in the cold in the Administration’s program of job making. Can you blame us for accepting the lucrative Spanish offer?". Despite the perceived disloyalty, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) did not open a file on Eddie and there is no record of him under the Freedom on Information Act (FOIA).

Time magazine wrote on December 21, 1936:
"Hilariously celebrating in the ship's bar of the Normandie with their first advance pay checks from Spain's Radical Government, six able U.S. aviators were en route last week for Madrid to join Bert Acosta, pilot of Admiral Byrd's transatlantic flight, in doing battle against Generalissimo Francisco Franco's White planes. Payment for their services: $1,500 a month plus $1,000 for each White plane brought down."

Physical description:
In 1938 Eddie stood at 5 foot, 8 inches (68 inches) and weighed 160 pounds (73 kg). This gives him a body mass index of 24.3. He had blue eyes and blonde hair, and he was living at 38 Broadway in Manhattan.

Middle years:
In June of 1940 Eddie began work for American Airlines at Newark Airport in New Jersey. He then moved to Jackson Heights, Queens on Long Island, because the American Airlines eastern terminal had moved to LaGuardia Airport. He took a job as a civilian instructor for the US Army at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn with the Archie Baxter Flying Service. Eddie registered for the draft on October 16, 1940 when he was living at 3250 73rd Street in Jackson Heights, Queens in New York. Gretchen and Eddie were considering divorce in 1940. They argued that Eddie was travelling to much.

On December 23, 1940, Eddie was killed in an accident at Floyd Bennett Field at age 29, while training George W. Herzog (1903-1940). They were flying at about 600 feet, about to land, when Navy pilot Kenneth A. Kuehner, age 25, of Minister, Ohio struck the tail assembly of Eddie's Piper Cub. Eddie's plane went into a spin and crashed into Deep Creek, just off of Flatbush Avenue. Both Herzog and Schneider were dead at the scene of impact. The bodies were taken to King's County Hospital, and Eddie's cause of death was listed as "crushed chest & abdomen; hemothorax & hemoperitoneum in aeroplane crash". His obituary was published in the New York Times of New York and the Jersey Journal of Jersey City, New Jersey. At the time of Eddie's death his parents were living at 6 Livingston Avenue, Arlington, Hudson County, New Jersey near Kearny, New Jersey.

Eddie was buried at Fairview Cemetery in Fairview, New Jersey. He was buried with the following family members: Gustav Schneider (1874-1925) who was Emil's brother and was married to Wilhelmine Molle (1873-1933); Gutstav's children: Theodore Schneider (1901-1979) and Edna Schneider; and Violet Schneider (1920) who died as an infant. Eddie is also buried with both his parents.

After his death Gretchen married a man named Gray and after they divorced she married a man named Grant Black and they lived in Texas. She died under the name of "Gretchen Black" in her home town of Des Moines, Iowa.

* Eddie's papers and photographs are now archived at the George H. Williams, World War I Aviation Library at the University of Texas at Dallas. They were placed there by his widow: Gretchen Harms. They archived his 1938 New York driver's license and NJ drivers license; his TWA Courtesy Card; 1940 Selective Service card; 1940 car registration; and 1942 FCC license.
* The Naida Muriel Freudenberg (1915-1998) Collection had the 1930 photograph; and an undated newspaper article.
* The Ralph Freudenberg (1903-1980) and Nora Belle Conklin (1902-1963) Collection had the circa 1918 photograph of Inga and Emil.
* New York State Vital Records provided the death certificate and ancillary report.
* A family anecdote says that some of Eddie August Schneider's belongings were presented to the National Air and Space Museum including some clothing, but the museum has no record of any donations.
* Eleanor Schneider has a collection of photographs.

  • 1911 Birth of Eddie Schneider in Manhattan, New York
  • 1915 (circa) Move to Red Bank, New Jersey
  • 1920 (circa) Move to Jersey City, New Jersey
  • 1920 1920 US Census
  • 1927 Death of Inga Pedersen, Eddie's mother
  • 1927 Graduation from Dickinson High School in Jersey City
  • 1927 Trip to Norway and Germany
  • 1930 Living at 114 Carlton Avenue in Jersey City
  • 1930 Sets transcontinental air speed record
  • 1930 National Air Tour: Won Great Lakes Trophy
  • 1930 Living in Hempstead, Long Island with his Carl Schneider (no known relation)
  • 1931 National Air Tour: Won first place for single engine planes
  • 1932 Marriage to Gretchen Hahnen
  • 1935 Leases Jersey City airport
  • 1935 Engine dies at 100 feet and he and Al Clemmings crash into Newark Bay
  • 1936 Living at 50 Jones Street in Jersey City
  • 1936 Flying in Spanish Civil War
  • 1937 Moves to Manhattan from Jersey City
  • 1938 Living at 38 Broadway in Manhattan
  • 1940 Work at American Airlines
  • 1940 Death in crash at Floyd Bennett Field
* Red colored Cessna monoplane model AW with 110 horsepower (82 kW) Warner Scarab engine, C9092

Major air races:
* 1930 Ford National Reliability Air Tour (National Air Tour) Detroit, Michigan; Plane number 22. Great Lakes Trophy.
* 1931 Ford National Reliability Air Tour (National Air Tour) Detroit, Michigan; Plane number 17. First place for single engine planes.

Junior transcontinental air speed record holders:
* 1930 Frank Goldsborough
* 1930 Eddie August Schneider
* 1930 Robert Buck

Eddie Schneider's 1930 transcontinental itinerary:
* Westfield, New Jersey; departure: August 14, 1930, 5:55 am, edt
* Williamsburg, Pennsylvania; departure: August 15, 1930, 12:30 pm
* Columbus, Ohio
* St. Louis, Missouri; departure: August 16, 1930, 1:25 pm
* Wichita, Kansas; arrival: August 16, 1930, 7:45 pm
* Santa Rosa, New Mexico aka Anton Chico, New Mexico
* Albuquerque, New Mexico; arrival: 5:35 am, mst, August 18, 1930; depature: August 18, 1930, 8:05 am, mst
* Los Angeles, California; departure: August 21, 1930, 6:17:30 am, pst
* Columbus, Ohio
* Roosevelt Field, Long Island, New York
* Chicago, Illinois (to attend National Air Races)

Coverage in the New York Times, New York:
* New York Times, July 30, 1930, page 43, "Boy pilot seeks record"
* New York Times, August 12, 1930, page 04, "Seeks title on coast hop"
* New York Times, August 15, 1930, page 05, "Schneider halted by fog"
* New York Times, August 16, 1930, page 28, "Schneider gains St. Louis"
* New York Times, August 17, 1930, page 23, "Schneider flies to Wichita"
* New York Times, August 18, 1930, page 17, "Schneider in New Mexico"
* New York Times, August 19, 1930, page 03, "Schneider reaches goal"
* New York Times, August 22, 1930, page 13, "Schneider pushes plane"
* New York Times, August 23, 1930, page 28, "Schneider plans flying here today"
* New York Times, August 24, 1930, page 02, "Schneider reaches Ohio"
* New York Times, October 19, 1930, page 09, "2 claim air records from Pacific here"
* New York Times, July 05, 1931, page 12, "15 planes start reliability flight"
* New York Times, July 10, 1931, page 11, "Harry Russell leads National Air Tour"
* New York Times, July 18, 1931, page 03, "Reach Fort Worth on Air Tour"
* New York Times, July 26, 1931, page 03, "Russell again wins National Air Tour"
* New York Times, June 24, 1934, page N3, "Marriage announced of Gretchen Hahnen"
* New York Times, September 22, 1935, page 12, "Robert Buck: Boy pilot delays flight"
* New York Times, September 26, 1935, page 18, "Jersey City to get WPA stadium fund"
* New York Times, September 30, 1935, page 24, "Robert Buck: Boy flier reaches Indiana on long hop"
* New York Times, January 01, 1937, page 17, "Amazed by Acosta, rebel fliers fled"
* New York Times, January 16, 1937, page 03, "Flier says lawyer sent him to Spain"
* New York Times, February 06, 1937, page 04, "Lanphier was not in Spain"
* New York Times, December 24, 1940, page 15, "2 die as planes crash at field"

Coverage in the Washington Post, Washington, DC:
* The Washington Post, August 12, 1930, page 5, "Youth, 19, to Try Today For Record U.S. Hop"
* The Washington Post, August 18, 1930, page 4, "Schneider Planned Take-Off at Dawn to Complete Hop to Albuquerque"
* The Washington Post, August 25, 1930, page 1, "Boy Pilot, 18, Lowers Three Flight Marks; Eddie Schneider Lowers Goldsborough Records Through Hop"
* The Washington Post, August 26, 1930, page 18, "Jersey City Mayor Greets Schneider; Walker Will Also Receive Boy Flier; to Take Part in National Races"
* The Washington Post, October 10, 1930, page 11, "Cross-Country Plane Race By Woman and Boy Looms; Laura Ingalls and Robert Buck to Take Off From California Today in Pursuit of New West-East Transcontinental Records", Robert Buck beats Eddie's record
* The Washington Post, January 07, 1937, page 5, "Yankee Fliers Quit"
* The Washington Post, January 16, 1937, page 7, "Aviator Says N.Y. Attorney Is Leftist Agent" via AP
* The Washington Post, January 17, 1937, page 5, "U.S. Socialists Sift Volunteers To Fight Rebels" via AP
* The Washington Post, January 20, 1937, page 5, "3 U.S. Airmen Here to Explain Aid to Loyalists; Acosta, Berry, Schneider Fly to Capital With Their Attorney"

Coverage in Chicago Tribune:
* Chicago Tribune; August 25, 1930. "Three Records Set by Boy Flyer. Schneider to Attend Air Races in Chicago. Eighteen year old Eddie Schneider of Jersey City, New Jersey landed here from Columbus, Ohio, at 3:03 p. m. (E.S.T.) today with three junior transcontinental records in his possession. He will fly to Chicago tomorrow for the air races."

Selected coverage in other periodicals:
* Newark Advocate, Newark, OH, August 14, 1930, "Youth is after junior record" via AP
* Clearfield Progress, Clearfield, PA, August 15, 1930, "Boy aviator forced to land, but arises again"
* Decatur Daily Review, Decatur, IL, August 17, 1930, "Youthful flyer lands in Wichita"
* Decatur Daily Review, Decatur, IL, August 18, 1930, "Schneider on last stage of flight"
* Van Wert Daily Bulletin, Van Wert, OH, August 18, 1930, "Albuquerque, New Mexico. Eddie Schneider attempting to set new record via INS
* Newark Advocate, Newark, OH, August 18, 1930, "Boy pilot in air" via AP
* Newark Advocate, Newark, OH, August 19, 1930, "Junior record for long hop"
* Newark Advocate, Newark, OH, August 21, 1930, "Schneider is after record" via AP
* Decatur Daily Review, Decatur, IL, August 22, 1930, "Schneider off on trip to Wichita"
* Decatur Daily Review, Decatur, IL, August 23, 1930, Schneider off on non-stop flight
* Decatur Evening Herald, Decatur, IL, August 25, 1930, "Sets junior transcontinental record" via Pacific and Atlantic
* Coshocton Tribune, Coshocton, OH, August 25, 1930, "Boy makes new round trip mark"
* Van Wert Daily Bulletin, Van Wert, Ohio on August 27, 1930, "Waving a cheery hello, Eddie Scheider ... broke the late Frank Goldsborough's record" via ITN
* Newark Advocate, Newark, OH, September 16, 1930, "Girl and boy of 19 are interesting pair in this year's Ford airplane tour"
* Decatur Daily Review, Decatur, IL, September 27, 1930, "Boy flyer set to try at transcontinental record", Robert Buck seeks Eddie's record
* Decatur Daily Review, Decatur, IL, September 29, 1930, "Boy aviator in quest of record", Robert Buck seeks Eddie's record
* Decatur Daily Review, Decatur, IL, October 01, 1930, "Boy flier hops off second time", Robert Buck beats Eddie's record
* Decatur Daily Review, Decatur, IL, October 05, 1930, "Boy flier plans return air trip", Robert Buck beats Eddie's record
* Coshocton Tribune, July 09, 1931, "Reliability air tourists over W. Va, Ky, and Tenn."
* Lima News, Lima, OH, July 10, 1931, "Russell leads flyers in air tour"
* Time magazine, August 03, 1931, "Ford's Reliability"
* Richfield Reaper, Richfield, UT March 21, 1935, "He Learns to Fly in 55 Minutes"
* Oshkosh Northwestern, Oshkosh, WI, January 06, 1937, "American aviators through with Spain" via AP
* Ironwood Daily Globe, Ironwood, Michigan, January 06, 1937, "4 disallusioned yank airmen desert Spain" via AP
* Jersey Journal, Jersey City, NJ, December 24, 1940, "Local pilot dead"