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Off-Ramp Recommends: Celebrating Women's History Month with a 96yo WW2 test pilot

ATC pilot Iris Cummings Critchell in
ATC pilot Iris Cummings Critchell in "Documented America: The Spirit of Iris" (Courtesy of CJ Productions)

UPDATE 3/17/2017: Sad to say, Iris Critchell fell ill, and the Western Museum of Flight has canceled the entire event. We'll let you know if they reschedule it. Get well, Iris!

March is Women's History Month and this week we'd like to recommend learning about some of the women who broke barriers and fought for equal rights. You can start Saturday at the Western Museum of Flight for a lecture with Iris Critchell. It's part of their Women at War: Celebrity Lecture Series.

World War II pilot Iris Critchell was a pioneer through and through. Women were barred from combat, but Iris wanted to serve her country and applied her love of engineering and her bravery in flight school. As a Women's Air Force Service Pilot (or WASP) she flew new, sometimes untested planes great distances to deliver them to combat regions, braving foul weather and rough terrain.

Iris is a founder of the Long Beach Ninety-Nines, a "international organization of women pilots that promotes advancement of aviation through education, scholarships, and mutual support while honoring our unique history and sharing our passion for flight," according to their website. She turned 96 in December, and Iris is still out on the tarmac as an active flight instructor and mentor to young pilots.

The lecture will focus on Iris's experience in the war, the importance of women in the armed forces, and how her experiences have informed her life. There will also be a display of classic planes, like the ones she flew!

This lecture takes place Saturday, March 18, at 11am at the Western Museum of Flight in Torrance, 3315 Airport Drive. The lecture is free for museum members, and there is a suggested $5 donation for non-members.