Iris Cummings

Biographical information

TypeCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameIris C.•Cummings (-Critchell)
Used nameIris•Cummings
Born21 December 1920 in Los Angeles, California (USA)
Measurements165 cm
AffiliationsLAAC, Los Angeles (USA)
NOC United States


Iris Cummings swam the breaststroke for the United States at the 1936 Olympics, and also won the AAU 220 yard breaststroke title from 1936-38. She placed second at the 1939 AAU meet and then retired, while she was studying at Southern Cal, from which she graduated in 1941.

In 1939 Cummings entered a civilian pilot training program and earned her pilot’s license in 1940. In 1942 she joined the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs). She was in the 6th Ferrying Group out of Long Beach, and flew 18 types of military aircraft, eventually reaching First Lieutenant. She worked as a flight instructor for much of the war.

After the war, in addition to raising her children, Cummings worked as a flight instructor, and helped develop curricula for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). She also raced airplanes, winning the 1957 Powder Puff Derby among other races. In 1962 Cummings founded the Bates Aeronautics Program at Harvey Mudd College, running the program until she retired in 1990, although she continued to teach classes in aeronautics.

For her pioneering work as a female aviator, Cummings received numerous honors. She was inducted into the National Flight Instructors Hall of Fame in 2000, was awarded the FAA’s Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award in 2006, and in 2006 received the Nile Gold Medal from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) in 2007 for her lifetime of dedication to aviation. Cummings has been a prominent member of the 99s, a group that supports female pilots, since 1992.


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1936 Summer Olympics Swimming (Aquatics) USA Iris Cummings
200 metres Breaststroke, Women (Olympic) 4 h3 r1/3

Special Notes