“Nobody was going to tell me I couldn’t do it because I was a woman.” – Jerrie Mock (November 22, 1925 – September 30, 2014)
In 1964, Geraldine “Jerrie” Mock (1925-2014) was a 38-year old housewife from Columbus, OH when she set out on the 29 day, 23,000 mile journey, accomplishing what her childhood hero Amelia Earhart had set out to do, but never finished.
Like so many other incredible historic firsts achieved by women, Jerrie’s story has seldom been told, but is worthy of hearing. In honor of this incredible woman, we give you…
10 things you should know about Jerrie Mock:
1. Her interest in flying began at just 7 years old when she and her father had the opportunity to fly in the cockpit of a small airplane.
2. Jerrie was the only female aeronautical engineering major at Ohio State University, but dropped out to marry fellow student Russell Mock, who was a pilot.
3. She earned her pilot’s license in 1958 and took part-ownership in a single-engine Cessna 180 airplane, named the “Spirit of Columbus” – the same plane that she took around the world.
4. Her original impetus for making the trip: She was bored. “I did not conform to what girls did. What the girls did was boring.”
5. Mock’s nickname was “the flying housewife,” she was often seen at airports around the world, dressed in a blouse, skirt, high heels and pearls.
6. At the time she set out to fly solo around the world, Jerrie had been a licensed pilot for only seven years, and had never flown farther than the Bahamas.
7. Preparations for the flight were accelerated when Jerrie found out that another female pilot, Joan Merriman Smith, was planning a solo flight round-the-world, which created an unintended race to the finish. Spoiler alert: Jerrie won.
8. When Jerrie landed in Saudi Arabia, soldiers searched the tiny plane looking for a man. When they didn’t find one, they gave her a well-deserved round of applause.
9. In 2014, just a few months before her death, a bronze life-sized statue of Jerrie, by Renate Burgyan Fackler, was erected at the Port Columbus International Airport, OH.
10. Jerrie wrote Three-Eight Charlie in 1970 about her solo world flight. The book was republished this year in celebration of the flight’s 50th anniversary.
Despite the number of records Jerrie broke, few people know of the flight and its historical significance, but it should be noted that the lack of recognition is due in part to Jerrie’s desire to remain out of the spotlight.
At the statue unveiling ceremony Jerrie said, “There were dozens of women who could have done what I did. All I did was have some fun.”
Lead image: National Air & Space Museum, Smithsonian