Marvel Crosson

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Marvel Crosson
Marvel Crosson.jpg
Crosson in the cockpit of a Ryan Brougham, ca. 1929
Born (1904-04-27)April 27, 1904
Warsaw, Indiana
Died August 19, 1929(1929-08-19) (aged 25)
Known for Aviator

Marvel Crosson (April 27, 1904 – August 19, 1929) was a pioneer aviator, and the first female pilot to earn a commercial license in the Territory of Alaska. She worked in both California and Alaska, dying in a crash during the very first Powder Puff Derby. She was inducted into the Alaska Women's Hall of Fame in 2011

Early life[edit]

She was born to Esler Crosson and his wife Elizabeth Wynant Crosson in Warsaw, Indiana, the hometown of Elizabeth Crosson.[1] Brother Joe[2] was born in Minneapolis, Kansas, where the family lived on a ranch. Another sister Zelma was born later. The family relocated to Sterling, Colorado.[3]

Aviation career[edit]

In 1922, the Crosson family moved to San Diego, California. Marvel and Joseph became fascinated with aviation and together bought their first airplane, a Curtiss N-9. Joe Crosson moved to the Territory of Alaska to take a job as a pilot. Marvel followed soon afterwards, and earned her commercial pilot's license there, the first woman in the territory to do so.[4] She joined her brother in his business, piloting and keeping the equipment in working order.[5] She helped her brother transport a monoplane from San Diego to New York for Hubert Wilkins. After working as a commercial pilot in Alaska, Marvel returned to California. She set an altitude record of 23,996 feet (7,314 m) on May 28, 1929, while piloting a Travel Air Jet J-5.[6][7]


Marvel Crosson died August 19, 1929, when her airplane crashed in the Arizona desert on the second day of a Powder Puff Derby that had begun in California. Her body was found several hundred feet from her plane, her parachute unopened.[8] She was entombed at Greenwood Memorial Park in San Diego, California.[9]

Race sponsor National Exchange Club held a nationwide moment of silence in all its clubs to commemorate Crosson's death. A vacant chair represented Crosson at a banquet for the Women's Air Derby in Cleveland, Ohio.[10] She was inducted into the Alaska Women's Hall of Fame in 2011.[4]


  1. ^ "Relatives of Joe Crosson Live Here". Warsaw Union. August 16, 1935. p. 1. Retrieved July 24, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Marvel Crosson's Kid Brother Flies On". The Evening Standard. December 6, 1929. p. 10. Retrieved July 24, 2012. 
  3. ^ Hershberger, Forrest; Grubbs, Jenni (2011). Sterling. Arcadia Pub. ISBN 978-0-7385-8152-1. OCLC 679919930. 
  4. ^ a b "Marvel Crosson inductee". Alaska Women's Hall of Fame. Retrieved July 24, 2012. 
  5. ^ "Intrepid Flyer of North Goes into Frozen Arctic to Save Sick Man's Life". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. April 23, 1927. pp. 1,2. Retrieved July 24, 2012. 
  6. ^ Sumner, Sandi (2008). Women Pilots Of Alaska: 37 Interviews And Profiles. McFarland. pp. 11–14. ISBN 978-0-7864-1937-1. OCLC 57208761. 
  7. ^ "Girl Pilot Crashes to Death". The Telegraph-Herald and Times-Journal. August 20, 1929. pp. 1,2,. Retrieved July 24, 2012. 
  8. ^ "Marvel Crosson Found Dead Beside Her Wrecked Plane". Lewiston Evening Journal. August 20, 1929. p. 1. Retrieved July 24, 2012. 
  9. ^ Marvel Crosson at Find a Grave
  10. ^ "National Tribute for Marvel Crosson". Evening Tribune. August 21, 1929. p. 1. Retrieved June 24, 2012.