Interesting Facts About Grace Marguerite Hay Drummond: First Woman To Travel Around The World By Air

Lady Grace Hay Drummond-Hay was closely associated with zeppelin travel aboard the Graf Zeppelin and Hindenburg. She was the widow of a British diplomat, Sir Robert Hay Drummond-Hay. She was married in 1920 to Sir Robert Hay Drummond-Hay (1846–1925) at the age of 25, her husband being almost 50 years older.

Lady Hay Drummond-Hay (born Grace Marguerite Lethbridge, 12 September 1895 – 12 February 1946) was a British journalist, who was the first woman to travel around the world by air (in a zeppelin).Grace Lethbridge was the eldest daughter of Sidney Thomas Lethbridge and his wife Grace Emily (née Willis).

Although she was not an aviator herself at first, she contributed to the glamour of aviation and general knowledge of it, by writing articles about her aerial adventures for US newspapers in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

As a journalist for the Hearst press organization, Drummond-Hay made her first zeppelin flight in October, 1928, when she was chosen to accompany five other reporters — including her companion and Hearst colleague Karl von Wiegand — on the first transatlantic flight of the Graf Zeppelin from Germany to America.  As the only woman on the flight, Drummond-Hay received a great deal of attention in the world’s press.

Though well-known in the late 1920s and early 1930s, Lady Hay Drummond-Hay has been largely forgotten. Her name is mentioned in a number of books on the history of zeppelin flights, but no major biography or other significant document has been written about her life.

We will like to shed some light on the life of Grace Marguerite Hay Drummond. So, here are some interesting facts about this renowned British journalist.

1. Having contributed to British papers such as The Sphere, she began to write for Hearst papers in the late 1920s. She wrote a series of articles for the Chicago Herald and Examiner, as one of the passengers aboard the first transatlantic flight of a civilian passenger zeppelin in 1928.

2. Lady Drummond-Hay’s 1929 experience was explored in Vaarwel (“Farewell”), an episode of the Dutch documentary series Het Uur van de Wolf (“The Hour of the Wolf”), released in 2009.

It was directed by Ditteke Mensink and researched by Gerard Nijssen, and told her story in semidocumentary form. The footage is of her and Graf Zeppelin’s round-the-world flight.

Extensive newsreel footage from the time showed in some detail how an airship operated. The narration consisted mainly of readings from Lady Drummond-Hay’s articles and journal, and included discussion of her relationship with von Wiegand.

3. Lady Drummond-Hay was very concerned when she was told by Hearst that Karl von Wiegand was to be her mentor on the voyage. She had had an affair with him, which had only ended six months before, at his insistence and to her regret.

Apparently the affair was briefly resumed during the Tokyo stopover but stopped again after he received a telegram from his wife. After the flight they remained journalistic companions until Lady Drummond-Hay’s death seventeen years later.

4. During World War II, Lady Drummond-Hay and von Wiegand were interned in a Japanese camp in the Philippines. When they were set free in 1945, she was very ill. They returned to the United States, but during their stay in New York, Lady Drummond-Hay died of coronary thrombosis in the Lexington Hotel.

At her funeral service, many notable people paid their last respects, including William Randolph Hearst and Marion Davies. After she was cremated, her ashes were brought to the United Kingdom by von Wiegand.

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