Marvell Crosson Died in Powder Puff Derby

   Marvell Crosson was the only pilot to die in the Powder Puff Derby. She was a very fine pilot who flew was a bush pilot in Alaska. She an her bother Joe went to Alaska because they knew that there were many jobs there. They intended to start an airline but the racing bug hit Marvel.
Before The Derby Marvel flew the entire course to know the route. She had the fastest plane in the race and was favored to be the winner. She was warned of sabotage because her plane was so much faster than the other planes. Marvel wasn’t deterred. She was confident that she would win.
After winning Marvel planned to go back to Alaska to build a home and continue to develop the airline business with her brother. She wasn’t afraid or concerned about the warnings of sabotage.
Unfortunately, she had problems right away. She damaged the left-wing after an accident. That was easy to fix but soon she developed engine trouble. She was an experienced pilot…how could this happen! Well it happened. By definition, it was an accident. No one knew where she was until her body was found in the desert of Arizona. The women of The Derby were shocked. Marvel was one of the most qualified pilots in the race.
Marvel’s body was found near her plane. Residents of the town of Welton, Arizona saw a plane falling out of the sky. Reports said her probably tried to jump to safety. It seemed that her plane developed engine trouble.She probably bailed out too low so her parachute couldn’t open in order to save her. It was so sad…this beautiful, talented lady found with broken bones and her parachute wrapped around her. She probably tried to pull the rip cord but it didn’t work.

  The women pilots said they needed to continue in Marvel’s honor. Unfortunately, the participants believed that sabotage was responsible for their problems.


Thea Rasche, the German Pilot

Thea Rasche was a German woman who participated in the Powder Puff Derby. Fellow pilots named her “Queen of the Air.” After a meeting with Amelia Earhart Thea became a charter member of the ninety-nines.


  • License signed by Orville Wright
  • First woman to own and operate an airplane in the state of Michigan
  • Came in 9th in Powder Puff Derby
  • First woman accepted by Parks Air College
  • Awarded Bronze Star Award from OX-5 Pioneers
  • Inducted into Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame
  • First woman in Germany to be awarded a seaplane license

This not a honor but Thea went back to Germany during World War II and joined the Nazi Party. She soon became a member of the Nationalist Socialist Flying Club. After the war she returned to Germany.

After the war she returned to the United States and she died in 1971.