Heroes in flight: Jerrie Mock

Jerrie Mock

Jerrie Mock

This week marked the anniversary of a key date in aviation history: 53 years since aviator Jerrie Mock became the first female to fly solo around the world. Here’s her story.

Early life

Geraldine “Jerrie” Fredritz Mock was born in Newark, Ohio, on November 22, 1925. She became interested in aviation aged just 5, sparked by a flight with her father in the cockpit of a Ford Trimotor airplane. Back when Mock was growing up, not many females were interested in flying, which is probably why she was the only girl on her engineering course in high school! However, Jerrie Mock would not be deterred and went on to study at Ohio State University cialis fiyat.

Mock left university to marry her husband, Russell Mock. He was a pilot also, and their frequent flights together only further inspired Jerrie Mock to fly. Her first lesson was in a Piper Tri-Pacer at the age of 32 and, in 1958, Mock earned her private pilot’s license.

A growing dream to “see the world”

As Mock built her hours in the sky, she became increasingly fascinated with hearing other pilots over the radio as they commentated on their journeys around the world. This got Mock thinking, and she began to plan her own global flight – not because she wanted to become a record breaker, but because she “just wanted to see the world.”

A number of women had already attempted a round-the-world flight, including the most famous attempt by Amelia Earhart in 1937. Little did Mock know, another female pilot – Joan Merriam Smith – was already planning a world flight, with the intention to follow Earhart’s route. However, Smith hadn’t yet filed her application with the National Aeronautic Association, and the two aviators only became aware of each other once Mock had. Although Mock hadn’t set out to make the flight for the sole purpose of earning the title, this encouraged her competitive streak – and Mock brought her takeoff date forward by two weeks once she learned Smith intended to make the trip in a faster twin-engine Piper Apache!

Preparing to make history

Mock certainly wasn’t the world’s most experienced female aviator at the date of her departure. Nicknamed the “flying housewife,” she’d never flown over water and, as a 100lb, 5ft mother-of-three, she hardly fitted the typical profile of a pilot at the time! However, Mock had confidence and 750 hours of flight time. She also worked hard to gain her instrument rating, which increased her latitude for weather conditions.

Mock chose to make her flight in a 1953 Cessna 180 – but it needed work. Her husband and his partner worked on the airplane to bring it up to long-distance flight capability, installing a new 225 hp engine, twin radio direction finders, dual short-range VHF NAV/Coms, autopilot and a new compass. The passenger seats were removed and replaced with three extra fuel tanks, extending the Cessna’s range to 3,500 miles!

The first female to pilot the globe

On the morning of March 19 1964, Jerrie Mock prepared for her historic takeoff. She left Columbus, Ohio at 9:31 am, just two days after Smith had taken off from California. What followed was a long and, at times, difficult flight. Her diaries tell of a tampered radio lead, landing in Algeria to concern over her flying outfit of a white blouse, blue skirt and high heels, and the cheers she received from the men in Saudi Arabia – a country where women were not even allowed to drive.

Flying over South East Asia needed careful planning – conflicts were in full force in Cambodia and Vietnam. She was also approaching her longest flights over the Pacific, where Earhart had become lost. However, Jerrie Mock made the journey quickly, arriving in Hawaii after 15 hours and 46 minutes. Smith was no threat by this point; she was still in Australia as Mock was heading back to Ohio via Texas and Kentucky.

An unassuming record breaker

On April 17, 1964, Jerrie Mock touched down in Columbus after a 23,103-mile journey that had taken 29 days, 11 hours and 59 minutes. She set seven records in total, including the first woman to fly across both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the fastest round-the-world speed for a Class C1-c aircraft, and, of course, the first female to fly solo around the world.

Mock was awarded the FAI’s Louis Bleriot Silver Medal – the first woman to do so. She went on to set a range of records throughout her aviation career before she passed away on September 30, 2014, aged 88. Her plane – The Spirit of Columbus – can be found at the National Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center.

Jerrie Mock was just one of the many female aviators to prove it’s not just for boys! If you want to start your flying career today, we’re ready to train you. So why not get in touch today?

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