Marvel Crosson: First Licensed Female Pilot in Alaska
October 02, 2020
Marvel Crosson (1900-1929) was born in Warsaw, Indiana, in 1900. She and her brother Joe were enamored of flying as children. In the early 1920s, they jointly purchased, rebuilt, and restored their first plane, a N-9. After making the move North in 1925, Marvel received a limited commercial license, making her the first licensed female pilot in Alaska. Her brother would become a famous bush pilot as well.
Marvel later moved away from Alaska but continued breaking records, including an altitude record of 23,996 feet (the previous record of 20,270 feet was set by female Louise Thaden). During the inaugural Women's Air Derby in California in August 1929, Marvel’s plane crashed not long after take-off. The crash was fatal. Marvel’s tenacity and spirit resonated long after her passing, and she was inducted into Alaska Women's Hall of Fame in 2011.
Did you know Marvel Crosson and have a story you’d like to share about her? We’d love to know more about her and about the powerful women in your life. Share your images and stories with us on Instagram and Facebook by tagging us (@anchoragemuseum and #ExtraToughWomenAK) and we’ll add them to our ongoing digital curation project. Stay tuned for more information about the upcoming exhibition and be sure to check back for new #ExtraToughWomenAK posts.
Image credits: Alaska Transportation Museum Photograph Collection, Alaska State Library, ASL-P46-032b and Crosson Family Papers, Alaska and Polar Regions Collections, Elmer E. Rasmuson Library, University of Alaska Fairbanks, UAF-2006-0103-00560 and UAF-2006-0103-00044.