Claire Fahy, August 23, 1929
Claire Fahy landed once as pilot in command at Tucson, Monday, September 22, 1930 at 1:15 PM. She carried C.A. Rector (who owned the airplane at the time) as passenger. Based at Los Angeles, CA they were homeward-bound from El Paso, TX. They were flying Waco ATO NC8508 (S/N A-58, manufactured during 1929). Her airplane eventually went to the government of Mexico. Please follow the link to her airplane to find out more.
She also lande six times as a passenger, each time with her husband, H.J. "Hub" Fahy as pilot. See the photograph of both of them just below.
Pilot Fahy participated in the August, 1929 Powder Puff Derby. She did not finish, however, being forced down in Calexico due to engine and flying wire problems. Contemporary news accounts suggested the mechanical problems were a result of sabotage of women fliers, as this was the first time women had been allowed to compete in the National Air Races and some men were against that idea.
Image, right, from the NY Daily News of August 23, 1929. Numerous articles appeared in newpapers regarding the alleged sabotage, and eleven racers, mechanics and race officials received subpoenas from the California District Attorney to offer testimony regarding the allegations.
The New York Times of Thursday, August 22, 1929 reported the District Attorney's findings as follows, "While our investigation is not completed, we have not been able to find a single instance of sabotage."
Perhaps there was no sabotage, but the District Attorney did the right thing by calling the investigation. Other women were forced out of the race (Bobbi Trout: oil leak, Thea Rasche: "foreign matter in her gasoline tank"). And, most tragically, one woman, Marvel Crosson, was killed when her airplane crashed early in the race. No evidence was found of sabotage, but the death of this popular woman surely deserved a thorough investigation.
Below, two images from Tim Kalina's collection. Thanks to Tim for sharing them with us.
Claire and "Hub" Fahy, March 6, 1930
Below, the annotation on the back of the image above.
Claire and "Hub" Fahy, March 6, 1930, Annotation
Interestingly, Claire and her husband landed just three days earlier at Tucson, March 3, 1930 at 9:00 AM. On this Monday, based at Los Angeles, CA, they were homeward-bound from El Paso, TX. The flew Lockheed Sirius NC349V.
Alas, their plans for their around-the-world flight were not to reach fruition. Hub was killed in an airplane accident in Michigan just 52 days after this photograph was taken. He was demonstrating a Lockheed Sirius to a prospective buyer. Claire was with him, but was uninjured.
Reno (NV) Evening Gazette, December 20, 1930 (Source: Gerow)
Claire died similarly about nine-months later on December 19, 1930. According to the New York Sun of December 16, 1930, she attended an air circus at Tonopah, NV and was starting back to California on December 15th. Her airplane (identified in other articles as a, "Waco taper-winged biplane"), crashed from a height of fifty feet, "...after the motor stalled as she was taking off." She was severely injured in the crash, suffering a fractured skull. She remained semi-conscious to unconscious and news accounts over the next few days held out little chance she would survive.
Article, left, from the Reno (NV) Evening Gazette of December 20th cites the transportation of her body back to Los Angeles. Pilots Harry Ashe and Marshall Headle, and William McAdoo's airplane (Lockheed Vega NC309H), are all signed in the Register.
The New York Times and the Newark Ledger of Saturday, December 20, 1930 announced her passing on the 19th after she, "...took a turn for the worse last night.". During her career she had been prominent at air races and meets, active in aircraft sales, and was considered by several aircraft operations departments, "...to be remarkably efficient in flying technique."
THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 04/24/08 REVISED: 07/08/11, 05/31/12