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Alaska Women's History: Irene Ryan

Irene Ryan
Lu Liston Collection, Anchorage Museum, B1989.16.784.2
Lu Liston Collection, Anchorage Museum, B1989.16.784.2
Irene Ryan

Alaska Women's History Note

Irene Ryan arrived in Anchorage, Alaska in 1931 at the age of twenty- one. She began flying lessons with Star Air Service known today as Alaska Airlines at Anchorage Aviation Field.

In 1932 Ryan became the first woman aviator in the Territory of Alaska to solo an airplane. Ryan left Alaska to attend New Mexico School of Mines later renamed New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in geology, becoming the first woman to achieve this feat at the university.

Irene Ryan later returned to Alaska and worked for the Civilian Aeronautics Authority (CAA) designing airfields. After World War II she helped design the Anchorage International Airport.

In 1955 Ryan was elected in the Alaska Territorial House of Representatives. In 1959 when Alaska became the 49th U.S. state she served in the State Senate, lending her knowledge in oil and mining.

In 1985 Ryan was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science Degree from Alaska Pacific University.

Irene Ryan died on November 23 rd , 1997 at the age of 88.