Walter J. Addems & His Original Seaplane Model
This model airplane appears to us at the Wings of History to be an original design by Walter Addems. Because we have the model it gives us an opportunity to share with you some history about this local aviator.
Walter Addems was a pioneer aviator who built his first airplane in 1916 and his last one in the 1960’s, but only after he had barnstormed across the nation and flown the mail in the 1920’s, trained pilots in the 1930’s, and served as director of flight operations for United Airlines until the 1950’s. He died at the age of 98 at a hospital in Palo Alto.
When Mr. Addems was in high school he built his first airplane a glider, from plans in the aviation magazine Aviation Week. At the time he lived in Oakland and had a friend tow him with a touring car in a pasture south of town. On that day he soared to perhaps fifteen feet above the ground for a short flight as it ended when he collided with a fence. But the flight had qualified him for membership in a very exclusive club: the Early Birds, 598 men and women who had flown solo, some in hot air balloons, before December 17, 1916!
Over the next several years, he bought, built and flew just about every famous airplane of his era, among them the Curtiss JN-4 trainer, The World War I Jenny and a Thomas-Morse Scout. In 1920, he moved to Judd, Iowa, and honed his flying skills at the local airstrip and was soon off barnstorming, participating in air shows. He married a school teacher, Genevieve Mongeau in 1925 and they were married until her death 70 years later.