Geraldine “Jerrie” Mock was the first woman to pilot an aircraft around the world. The 53rd anniversary of Mock’s history-making flight was yesterday on March 19, 2017.
On March 19, 1964, Mock and The Spirit of Columbus, her 1953 Cessna 180 single-engine monoplane, took off from Columbus, Ohio. During her flight around the world, she traveled 23,103 miles in just under 30 days. The trip lasted a total of 29 days, 11 hours, and 59 minutes.
— SmithsonianAirSpace (@airandspace) March 19, 2017
Jerrie Mock was one of the first aeronautical engineering students at Ohio State University. Her husband, Russell Mock, was a pilot and not only inspired Jerrie to become a pilot herself, he encouraged it.
The mother of three deemed herself “the flying housewife” and worked hard to get 750 hours of flight time under her belt by the time she made her trip in 1964.With some help from her husband and his colleagues, Jerrie Mock found herself in the cockpit of The Spirit of Columbus. The Cessna 180 had been given several updates to help prepare the aircraft for the long distance journey. This included a new engine, radio direction finders, and both long and short-range radios for communication.
The pilot also brought along a typewriter so that she could type personal letters and articles for the Columbus Dispatch while she traveled. Mock and her family lived in Bexley when she left for her excursion.
The Ohio native discovered a rival in Joan Merriam Smith. They were unaware of the competition until they were filing their routes with the National Aeronautic Association and learned of the other’s plans. Both began racing to become the first woman to successfully fly around the world.
The National Aeronautic Association did not sanction Smith’s flight. However, she planned to begin what she called a sightseeing expedition around the world. She took off from a field near San Fransisco and planned to follow the same flight path as Amelia Earhart. Smith began her journey two days before Mock on March 17, 1964.
Despite her rival’s head start, Jerrie Mock was given the title as the first woman to fly around the world on April 17, 1964. Throughout her travels, she experienced minor technical difficulties and her plane needed a handful of repairs along the way. She was greeted at the Port Columbus Airport by thousands.
Mock’s success came 27 years after Amelia Earhart’s ill-fated attempt to fly around the world in 1937.
For more information about Jerrie Mock and her plane, visit the Smithosnian Air and Space Meseum website.