Nancy Crinage was born on the Isle of Wight in 1920. Her parents were a Ventnor family. Her father ran Crinage Coaches and a garage. She attended Upper Chine School in Shanklin.
In her teenage years she was keen on amateur dramatics and took part in a number of local shows. At the age of 19, in 1939, Nancy became the first female enrolled in the Isle of Wight Civil Air Guard. She learned to fly at Sandown Airport and became the first woman in the Island C.A.G to fly solo, in late May.
Nancy may have been inspired to join the C.A.G when news broke around Britain that Amy Johnson had been hired as a commercial pilot, for Portsmouth, Southsea and Isle of Wight Aviation (P.S.I.O.W.A).
Amy was president of the women’s section of the Civil Air Guard. Although there is no record of Amy visiting the C.A.G. at Sandown, it is highly likely that she did so. She took her C.A.G responsibilities very seriously.
Another female C.A.G. member to fly solo at Sandown during that same week as Nancy was Joan Broadsmith. Joan was the daughter of Harry Broadsmith, who was a Director of Saunders Roe.
Visitors of note to the airport during that same May week were the Duke of Richmond and Air Commodore Chamier.
Nancy may have set the record for the first C.A.G female to fly solo on the Island, but Joan set the record for being the first Isle of Wight C.A.G. woman to gain her flying licence. Joan qualified on 7th June 1939 and Nancy’s aviators certificate was awarded nine days later on the 16th June.
If this wasn’t excitement enough for Nancy, she also became engaged to Lieutenant Paul Leyton, of the Royal Navy. Paul was also from Ventnor. His late father had been a local vicar.
Nancy married Paul soon after she got her flying licence. They left the Island when Paul was posted to a mainland base.
Nancy, with the laughing face, has her place in Island aviation history.