Eddie August Henry Schneider (October 20, 1911 – December 23, 1940) set three transcontinental airspeed records for pilots under the age of twenty-one in 1930. His plane was a Cessna with a Warner-Scarab engine, named "The Kangaroo". He set the east-to-west, then the west-to-east, and the combined round trip record. He was the youngest certificated pilot in the United States, and the youngest certified airplane mechanic. He was a pilot in the Spanish Civil War in the Yankee Squadron. He died in an airplane crash in 1940 while training a new pilot, when a bomber clipped his plane's tail at Floyd Bennett Field.
Birth and family
Eddie Schneider 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 Karoline Eldora Pedersen (1882-1927), who was born in Farsund
. Eddie had one full sibling: Alice Violetta Schneider (1913-2002) who married John Harms (1905-1985).
The family moved from Manhattan to Red Bank, New Jersey
, and then they moved to Jersey City, New Jersey
by 1920. Eddie attended William L. Dickinson High School
and dropped out of school in 1926, at age 15 to go to work as a plane mechanic at Roosevelt Field
in Hempstead, Long Island. In 1927 his mother died, then, Eddie and his parents visited Bielefeld, Germany
and Farsund, Norway
to visit with relatives. In Germany Eddie went on a plane 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 certificate. That same year he also received a mechanics certificate, becoming the youngest certificated airplane mechanic in New York. In April 1930 Eddie was living in Hempstead
, Long Island
with a German friend named Carl Schneider (1898-?). Carl was not related to him, and was also working as a mechanic. Eddie flew a red Cessna
monoplane with tail number C9092.
Transcontinental air speed record
Eddie reported that he intended to fly to the Pacific coast and back in August 1930. On August 25
he 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. He flew from Westfield, New Jersey
on August 14
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 in New York
on August 25
, his first words were to his father: "Hello Pop, I made it." He was carrying letters from the Mayor John Clinton Porter
of Los Angeles, to Mayor Frank Hague
of Jersey City. Combined he set three records.
National Air Tours
After setting the transcontinental speed record he entered in the 1930 Ford National Reliability Air Tour
in Chicago, which ran from August 23
to September 1
. He won the Great Lakes Trophy. Nancy Hopkins
also flew in the tour that year.
In 1931 Eddie participated in, what was the last Ford National Reliability Air Tour, in his Cessna. A defect in his engine forced a landing while flying over a mountainous section of Kentucky. He made a forced landing in a corn patch on the side of the mountain. A new engine was sent to him and after a difficult takeoff, he went on to win first place for single engine aircraft, and finished 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.
During one of the National Air Tours, Schneider had taken off in his Cessna with the Warner Scarab engine, from Chicago bound for the balloon races in Cleveland. He saw the crowd scatter below, looked up and saw the 40-foot left wing of a twenty passenger Burnelli transport plane directly over him. Passengers in the Burnelli scrambled to the other side of the cabin to tilt the wing back up. Schneider sent his plane diving just as the Burnelli's wing scraped his planes wing. A crash was averted by his 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.
In 1932 he went to work for the Hoover Air League as co-director of the Aviation Division. He married Gretchen Frances Hahnen (1902-1986) in New York City
on June 2
at the New York Municipal Building in Manhattan
. Gretchen was the daughter of Zora Montgomery Courtney (1882-1962) and was originally from Peoria, Illinois
. Her father was Herme Francis Hahnen 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
, and the editor of the Junior Club Magazine. Eddie met her at an aviation function. They did not have any children.
Jersey City Airport
Starting on January 1
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 three-seat, open-cockpit biplane with his student, Fred Weigel (1904-1990), when the motor died. From an altitude of 100 feet they crashed into Newark Bay
, but were unhurt and were able to walk ashore. He also taught Herbert Sargent to fly with just 55 minutes in lessons.
Spanish Civil War
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?|Eddie August Schneider on January 20, 1937
In 1936, Eddie left for Spain
to fly in the Yankee Squadron
for the Spanish Loyalists in the Spanish Civil War
. He was recruited by a lawyer in New York City
. Time (magazine)
wrote on December 21
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. ...
He was living at 50 Jones Street in Jersey City at the time. He 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 claimed he was never paid in full, and he returned to the US in January 1937. Spain claimed that they were paid in full, and were not owed any money. Others who flew for the loyalists included: Bert Acosta, Gordon Berry, and Frederic Ives 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, D.C. 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?" He later said "This was a mess ... 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 flyers had their passports confiscated, and they were to be returned when they attested that they had never forsworn allegiance to America.
In 1938 Eddie stood at 5-foot, 8 inches (68 inches) and weighed 160 pounds (73 kg). He had blue eyes and blond hair, and he was living at 38 Broadway in Manhattan. Eddie began work for American Airlines
at Newark Airport
in New Jersey
, he then moved to Jackson Heights, Queens
on Long Island
, when the American Airlines eastern terminal had moved to LaGuardia Airport
. Around June, he took a job as a civilian instructor teaching Civil Aeronautics Authority students to fly at Floyd Bennett Field
with the Archie Baxter Flying Service. Eddie registered for the draft on October 16
when he was living at 3250 73rd Street in Jackson Heights
, Queens in New York.
On December 23
, around 1:25 pm, Eddie was killed in an accident at Floyd Bennett Field
at age 29, while training George Wilson 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". The accident was investigated by the Civil Aeronautics Board
(CAB) and Kuehner was ruled at fault for flying too low and failing to observe the traffic in front of him. The air traffic controllers were also chastised. Eddie was buried at Fairview Cemetery in Fairview, New Jersey
. Bert Acosta
attended the funeral.
On February 13
Gretchen appealed to Congress for financial relief with HR 5290 Gretchen married Herbert Gray and after they divorced she married Grant A. Black (1913-1976) who was from Michigan, and they lived in Fort Worth, Texas
and later Goldsboro, North Carolina
. In 1961 she was given an award by the Early Fliers Club of Long Island. She died under the name of "Gretchen Black" in her home town of Des Moines, Iowa
Major air races
Junior transcontinental air speed record holders
- 1911 Birth of Eddie Schneider in Manhattan, New York on October 20
- 1915 (circa) Move to Red Bank, New Jersey
- 1920 (circa) Move to Jersey City, New Jersey
- 1920 1920 census Schneider Pedersen.gif
- 1927 Death of Inga Pedersen, Eddie's mother, on December 26
- 1927 Graduation from Dickinson High School in Jersey City
- 1927 Trip to Norway and Germany
- 1929 Became the youngest person in the United States to receive a commercial pilot certificate and the youngest certificated airplane mechanic in New York
- 1930 Living at 114 Carlton Avenue in Jersey City
- 1930 Sets transcontinental air speed record on August 25
- 1930 National Air Tour: Won Great Lakes Trophy, eighth place overall
- 1930 8638926109289561764.jpg
- 1931 National Air Tour: Won first place for single engine planes, third place overall
- 1932 Works for Hoover Air League
- 1932 677579879656434.jpg
- 1935 Living at 209 Sip Avenue, Jersey City
- 1935 Leases Jersey City Airport on January 1
- 1935 Engine dies at 100 feet and he and Fred Weigel (1904-?) crash into Newark Bay
- 1935 Jersey City Airport closes to make room for sports stadium on December 31
- 1936 Flying in Yankee Squadron in Spanish Civil War
- 1936 Living at 50 Jones Street in Jersey City.
- 1937 Moves to Manhattan from Jersey City after return from Spain
- 1938 Living at 38 Broadway in Manhattan
- 1940 Work at American Airlines
- 1940 Registered for draft on October 16
- 1940 Death in crash at Floyd Bennett Field on December 23
- 2007 Nominated to the New Jersey Aviation Hall of Fame
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 departure: August 15, 1930, 3:21 pm
- St. Louis, Missouri; arrival: August 15, 1930 7:05 pm (Central Standard Time); departure: August 16, 1930, 1:25 pm; elapsed time: 8 hours 38 minutes
- 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; departure: August 18, 1930, 8:05 am, mst
- Los Angeles, California; arrival: August 19, 1930; departure: August 21, 1930, 6:17:30 am, pst (elapsed flying time of 29 hours and 55 minutes from New Jersey to California)
- Albuquerque, New Mexico; arrival: August 21, 1930, 3:13 pm
- Columbus, Ohio; August 23, 1930; August 24, 1930
- Roosevelt Field, Long Island, New York; arrival August 25, 1930, 4:03 pm, est; elapsed time: 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
- Chicago, Illinois (to attend National Air Races)
- The Gretchen Black Collection at the George H. Williams, World War I Aviation Library at the University of Texas at Dallas contains Eddie's certificates, letters, diary, photographs, and the beret he wore in the Spanish Civil War, were donated by his widow to the Institute of Aeronautical Sciences in New York City, they were transferred to, and now archived at the University of Texas at Dallas. They also archived his 1938EddieSchneider.jpg and NJ drivers license; his TWA Courtesy Card; ; and 1942 FCC certificate.
- The Naida Muriel Freudenberg (1915-1998) Collection had the 1930 ; and an .
- The Associated Press has a single photo that was used by the New York Times for his obituary.
- The Ralph Freudenberg (1903-1980) and Nora Belle Conklin (1902-1963) Collection had the circa 1918 .
- New York State Vital Records provided the 8638926 109279137449.gif.
- Eleanor Schneider has a collection of photographs.
- Robert C. Hahnen in Hopkins, Minnesota has a collection of photographs.
- The Eddie A. Schneider Memorial Library consists of 67 books, 35 pamphlets, and a painting. They are housed at the National Air and Space Museum at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.. The material was donated by his widow Gretchen, while she was living in Fort Worth, Texas. They also have two photos.
References and notes