Ever day, I check Ebay to see if anyone is offering anything about the Powder Puff Derby. Today someone was offering a Pilot magazine from 1958, which talked about the Derby (then in its 11th year) and Iris Critchell. Whi is Iris Critchell?
From Harvey Mudd College : Iris Critchell Celebrates 90th Birthday
Feb 24, 2011 - Claremont, Calif. -
Community members gathered Feb. 19 to celebrate their favorite aviatrix—Iris Critchell, instructor of aeronautics emerita, on the occasion of her 90th birthday.
In attendance were over 100 people, including family, many alumni, faculty and friends, who shared personal stories about Iris and her husband, Howard ("Critch"). HMC students receiving aeronautical scholarships were also in attendance.
- Claire Robinson '11- The Hale Chapin Field Memorial Aeronautical Endowed Scholarship
- Joseph Min '12- The Lois & Joseph Marriott Aeronautical Endowed Scholarship
- Johnson Qu '12- The Adele & David Foley Aeronautical Endowed Scholarship
- Keiko Hiranaka '12- Isabel Bates Aeronautical Endowed Scholarship
- Christopher Cotner '13- The Adele & David Foley Aeronautical Annual Scholarship
- Benjamin Liu '12- The Iris & Howard Critchell Aeronautical Annual Scholarship
Critchell, who served as a designated pilot examiner for the FAA FSDO for more than 20 years, began flying in 1939 at Mines Field, now known as the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). From then on, her diverse flight experience helped define the role women were able to assume in the field of aeronautics.
In 1941, Critchell's became the first woman to complete the Civil Pilot Training Program at the University of Southern California (USC), where she also earned a degree in physical sciences and mathematics.
As a member of the Women Air Force Service Pilots (WASP), Critchell went on to ferry military planes across the county during World War II for the U.S. Army.
Following the WASP disbandment, she continued her flight training and designed the curriculum for USC's aeronautical courses for veterans at its College of Aeronautics in Santa Maria in 1946. While there, Critchell served as chief ground instructor and chief instrument rating flight instructor for three years.
After retiring from HMC as instructor emerita of aeronautics in 1990—the year the college's Bates Program officially ended—Critchell continued to serve as a faculty advisor on numerous projects. Over the years, she also assisted the HMC Engineering Clinic's aeronautics projects and performed equipment flight tests.
Critchell's lifetime achievements also include swimming in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, winning the 1957 Powder Puff Derby (a transcontinental race performed by women pilots) and being inducted into the National Flight Instructors Hall of Fame in 2000 and receiving a Congressional Gold Medal in 2010 along with fellow members of the Women Airforce Service Pilots. Today, she lectures and consults on various phases of aviation education and history.