Lady Hay Drummond-Hay : Around the World in a Flying Machine

Grace Marguerite, Lady Hay Drummond-Hay (1895-1946) was a British journalist who wrote for the Hearst papers.  She made her name with a series of articles about her experiences as one of the passengers on the first transatlantic flight of a civilian passenger zeppelin in 1928.* The following year, she  was the first woman to travel around the world by air, again in a zeppelin. She contributed to the public’s general knowledge about aviation—and added a sense of glamour to the enterprise–by writing articles about her aerial adventures for American newspapers in the late 1920s and early 1930s.  (She was more than just a passenger, she was also one of the few British women pilots to hold the military “blue certificate” for blind flying before World War II and was president of the Women’s International Association of Aeronautics for many years.)

Drummond-Hay later traveled as a war correspondent in company with her Hearst colleague Karl von Wiegand. (In her obituary, Time described her as von Wiegand’s Girl Friday.  To which I can only say, grrrr.) Together they reported on the Japanese invasion of Manchuria (1931) and the Italo-Abyssinian War (1935-37).  During World War II, the two reporters were interned in a Japanese camp in the Philippines.  They were released in 1943 and traveled to the United States in the Swedish ship SS Gripsholm, which the United States had chartered as an exchange and repatriation vessel. In 1944, they were back on the job, assigned to cover conditions in Portugal and Spain.

Hay-Drummond’s time in the internment camp left her in poor health, from which she never entirely recovered.**  She died of coronary thrombosis in February 1946.


*For a time, it looked like Sigrid Schultz was going to be a passenger as well. Her father had been a friend of Graf von Zeppelin, the eponymous inventor of the aircraft, and she had friends in the Zeppelin organization who were willing to pull strings on her behalf. The opportunity fell through because McCormick wasn’t willing to pay even the “friends and family” fare she had negotiated. Schultz was seriously disappointed.

**She probably wasn’t in great shape when she was interned. Being a war correspondent was hard on the body.

Just a reminder:  My publisher, Beacon Press,  is giving away 25 copies of The Dragon From Chicago on Goodreads. You can sign up here  through July 4. Good luck!

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