Irene Leverton, a resident of Chino Valley, Arizona since 1988, was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1927. Irene was probable born several years early, because as a little girl, she played with model airplanes instead of dolls. She dreamed of being a fighter pilot, and of flying international ferries. In the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s, in a man’s world, those dreams would prove difficult to fulfill. Nevertheless, flying has been Irene’s life.
She started as a duster and sprayer pilot, and then became a wartime flight instructor, teaching primary, advanced and aerobatic courses. Later she instructed in gliders. Irene ferried aircraft, flew air ambulances, charters, and operated her own taxi service and flight school. She has flown as and executive pilot, scheduled commuter captain and for the Forest Service. For 14 years Irene was an FAA designated pilot examiner.
She was part of the Mercury 13, a group of women who volunteered and passed the Mercury Space Program’s basic medical tests for becoming an astronaut. Irene has frequently been involved with the Civil Air Patrol as a volunteer since 1944. She keeps her airline transport and flight instructor certificates current. Irene Leverton has been flying for 60 years and has accumulated 25,490 pilot hours in that period. She is also a motivational speaker, writer and an accomplished artist.