Born February 5, 1910 in Huntington, West Virginia, Irene I. Crum was a pioneering female in aviation. With a curious passion for aviation, she successfully completed her first solo flight in 1936. Her aircraft of choice was an Aeronca C-2, unofficially dubbed “the flying bathtub” given the unique contours of the fuselage. Wanting to showcase what she could do with the aircraft, Crum flew to 19,423 feet, setting the altitude record for a two-cylinder aircraft. The flight itself was historic but making it even grander was the fact that Crum only had 40 solo hours of flying experience when she completed the flight. She had taken up flying a mere 14 months earlier.
Crum went on to become a member of the historic Women’s Air Force Service Pilots, or WASPs in World War II after graduating from Marshall College, or Marshall University as it is known today. Crum went on to become a flight instructor on behalf of the U.S. Government in Brazil.
Later on in life she returned to the U.S. and taught in Jacksonville, Florida before returning home in West Virginia. At the time of her death on April 9, 1977, the woman’s altitude record for a two-cylinder record had not been broken. The State of West Virginia recognizes her contributions to aviation and honors her memory.