Irene H. Leverton

  • Wall of Honor Location:

    Foil: 15 Panel: 1 Column: 3 Line: 87

  • Wall of Honor Level:

    Air and Space Friend

  • Honored by:

    Ms. Irene Helen Leverton

1927- Born March 3rd in Chicago, Illinois to James and Frieda (Gerhardt) Leverton.
1944- Joined Civil Air Patrol (CAP), made her 1st solo in a Piper J-3 Cub, and began learning stalls, spins, forced landings and winter flying on skis, from an ex-military flight instructor
1949-195- Ag pilot in Illinois, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Michigan. Spraying and dusting crops.

1950- Participated as lead pilot in opening ceremony of Meig’s Field, Chicago by spraying crowd with “Tailspin” perfume from an Aeronca aircraft sprayer.
1950-1970- Piloted scheduled commuter flights, ferry aircraft, was a corporate pilot, taught glider students, and flew for a multi-engine air ambulance service. Was a rated flight instructor for students wanting to become commercial instrument and multi-engine pilots. Gave “135 Check Airman” flights per FAA regulations.
1961- Asked by Dr. Lovelace to participate in same endurance tests given to astronauts; she passes and becomes one of the “Mercury 13”. However, the program to send women into space was cancelled for over two decades.
1964- Won 1st place in Woman’s National Pylon Race in Reno, NV.
1971- Finished a contested 11th place (due to 20 min. forced holding pattern before allowed to land at Goose Bay airport) in the “Great Race” from London, England to Victoria, Canada. 57 international entries participated.
1972- Became a “FAA Designated Accident Prevention Counselor”.
1976- Graduated from San Jose State College with AA degree.
1985-1995- Gave over 1000 FAA flight check rides to various private and training school students. She became frustrated with new student training limitations and resigned in 1995.
1986- Given the “Women With Wings” Award by the Women’s Air and Space Museum in Cleveland, Ohio.
1980-2000- Continues as flight instructor. Flew search and rescue flights for CAP, flew some flights for AZ Border Patrol, and was spotting fires for US Forest Service.
1996- Inducted into “Women in Aviation” Pioneers Hall of Fame. Honored with a plaque at the “International Forest of Friendship”.
2004- Retired from Civil Air Patrol after an off and on affiliation that covered several states. Awarded “CAP Commander’s Award”, and a “CAP Meritorious Service Award”. Inducted into the “Arizona Aviation Hall of Fame”, at the Pima Air Museum.
2005- Received the FAA “Master Pilot Award”. Honored as member of the “Mercury 13” by the Texas Women’s University. Honored as a “Mercury 13” speaker at the Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum in Chicago, Ill.
2007- Received honorary “Doctorate of Science Award”, from the University of Wisconsin, for “Mercury 13” efforts.
2010- Retires “Flight Pilot Certification #119509” with over 25,762 flight hours during 65 years of unparalleled devotion to flying. She flew over 25 types of multi-engine aircraft (including 200 hours as a co-pilot in a DC-3, flying military personnel throughout USA), plus dozens of single engine aircraft ranging from 65hp to 650 hp. Though her life on earth was tedious and fraught with intermittent discrimination, Irene would not be swayed from her passion for flight. Irene stayed above it all – happiest when commanding an aircraft through the clouds towards a distant horizon.


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