Mary Wallance ”Walley” Funk was born on February 1, 1939. She is an aviator and Goodwill Ambassador of America. She was known for being the first female civilian flight instructor at Ford Skill, Oklahoma. The first female to be the air safety investigator for the National Transportation safety board.
Moreover, First female to Federal Aviation Agency inspector, as well as one of the Mercury. On Blue Origin’s Shepard spacecraft, Wally Funk is scheduled to become the oldest per on space during its July 20, 2021 mission.
Table of Contents
Wally Funk – Early Life
Funk was born in 1939 in Las Vegas, New Mexico, and raised in Taos, New Mexico. The variety of stores were owned by her parents. . From the artista the family had a collection of artwork at the Taos colony, at the store the artista would trade artwork to pay off their debt.
Funk was enthralled charm by planes as a child. When she was one year old, her parents took her to an airport near their home in New Mexico, where she came up close to a Douglas DC-3, an early airplane. She explains, “I go straight to the wheel and try to turn the nut.” “‘She’s going to fly,’ Mother said.”
She developed an interest in mechanics and began to construct model airplanes and ships. She was creating planes out of balsa wood before the age of seven. She took her first flying lesson when she was nine years old. Funk was a skilled outdoorswoman who enjoyed riding her horse or bike, skiing, hunting, and fishing.
She became an outstanding markswoman at the age of 14 and was awarded the Distinguished Rifleman’s Award. Her extraordinary shooting results were given to President Dwight Eisenhower by the National Rifle Association, and he responded in writing.
At the same time, she participated in the United States as the Top Female Skier in Slalom and Downhill races, representing the southwestern United States.
Wally Funk – Flight school and education
Funk wanted to study subjects like mechanical drawing and car mechanics in high school, but she was only allowed to take courses like home economics because she was a girl. Funk dropped out of high school at the age of 16 and enrolled at Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, frustrated.
Funk joined the “Flying Susies” and received first place in her class of 24 fliers. She earned her pilot’s license and an Associate of Arts degree in 1958.
Funk went on to Oklahoma State University to complete a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education, drew there by the school’s famous “Flying Aggies” program. Funk obtained a variety of aviation instrumentation and teaching ratings during her time at OSU, including Commercial, Single-engine Land, Multi-engine Land, Single-engine Sea, Instrument, Flight Instructor, and all Ground Instructor ratings.
In the International Collegiate Air Meets, Funk was elected as an officer of the “Flying Aggies” and flew for them. Two years in a row, she got the “Outstanding Female Pilot” award, the “Flying Aggie Top Pilot” award, and the “Alfred Alder Memorial Trophy.”
Her achievements in aviation were recognized in 1964 when she became the youngest woman in Stephen’s College history to win the Alumna Achievement Award.
Wally Funk – A career in aviation
When he was 20 years old, Funk began his career as a professional aviator. She began her career as a Civilian Flight Instructor for noncommissioned and commissioned officers of the United States Army at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Funk was the first female flying instructor at a US military facility.
In the fall of 1961, she obtained a job with an aviation company in Hawthorne, California, as a Certified Flight Instructor, Charter, and Chief Pilot.
Funk earned her Airline Transport Rating in 1968, making her the 58th woman in the United States. She applied to three commercial airlines but, like other qualified female pilots, was turned down due to her gender.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) awarded Funk the flight inspector rating in 1971, making her the first woman to complete the FAA’s General Aviation Operations Inspector Academy course, which covers Pilot Certification and Flight Testing procedures, as well as handling accidents and violations.
She was the first woman to work as a field examiner for the FAA for four years. She was the first woman in the United States to be elevated to the FAA SWAP (Systems Worthiness Analysis Program) as a specialist in 1973. Wally re-entered the FAA Academy in late November 1973 to pursue courses in air-taxi, charter, and aviation rental enterprises.
Funk was named the first female Air Safety Investigator by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in 1974. Funk looked into 450 accidents, which included anything from a possible mob hit to a tragic wreck at a mortuary. She discovered that persons who die in small-plane crashes frequently had their jewelry, shoes, and clothing stripped off by the impact.
Funk also competed in several air races at the same time. She finished eighth in the 25th Annual Powder Puff Derby Race, sixth in the Pacific Air Race, and eighth in the Palms to Pines Air Race.
She finished second in the Palms to Pines All Women Air Race from Santa Monica, California to Independence, Oregon on August 16, 1975.
Wally won the Pacific Air Race from San Diego to Santa Rosa, California on October 4, 1975, flying her red and white Citabria against 80 other participants. After 11 years on the job, Funk retired from her position as an Air Safety Investigator in 1985. Funk went on to become an FAA Safety Counselor and a well-known pilot trainer and an aviation safety speaker.
She was a keynote speaker for the United States at the World Aviation Education and Safety Congress in 1986. In 1987, Funk was named Chief Pilot at Emery Aviation College in Greeley, Colorado, where he oversaw 100 students in-flight programs ranging from Private through Multi-engine Flight Instructor and Helicopter.
Funk has served as the chief pilot at five different aviation schools in the United States. She has soloed over 700 students and 3,000 Private, Commercial, Multi-engine, Seaplane, Glider, Instrument, CFI, Al, and Air Transport Pilots as a professional Flight Instructor.
Wally Funk – Space career
Funk volunteered for the “Women in Space” Program in February 1961. Despite the lack of official government support, William Randolph Lovelace directed the program. Lovelace was contacted by Funk, who detailed her background and accomplishments. Funk was chosen to participate despite being younger than the recruiting age range of 25-40.
Twenty-five women applied, 19 were accepted, and 13 graduated, including Funk, who was 21 years old at the time. She outperformed John Glenn on some tests. The group was called the “Mercury 13” by the media, a reference to the Mercury 7.
Funk, like the other program participants, was put through rigorous physical and mental testing. Volunteers were placed in sensory deprivation tanks in one experiment. Funk was able to stay in the tank for a world-record-breaking 10 hours and 35 minutes without hallucinations. She passed all of her exams and was now qualified to travel to space.
In the Mercury 13 program, she received the third-highest score. Despite this, the program was terminated just as the women were about to complete their final test. Funk became a Goodwill Ambassador after the Mercury 13 program was canceled.
Wally Funk – Later career
Funk continued his desire to travel to space. Funk applied three times to NASA when it eventually started allowing women in the late 1970s. Despite her strong credentials, she was denied because she lacked an engineering degree and had no prior experience as a test pilot.
Lt. Col. Eileen Collins became the first woman to pilot a Space Shuttle into space in 1995; Funk was too old to qualify at the time Collins became a Space Shuttle pilot. Collins invited Funk and six other Mercury 13 members to the launch, and NASA granted them a behind-the-scenes VIP tour of the Kennedy Space Center complex.
She paid to be one of the first persons to fly into space via Virgin Galactic in 2012. Earnings from Funk’s books and films, as well as money from his family, we’re used to funding the flight. Higher, Faster, Longer: My Life in Aviation and My Quest for Space Flight, a memoir by Funk and author Loretta Hall, was released in July 2020.
2.A suborbital space mission is planned for 2021.
Funk will ride on the first crewed flight of New Shepard, according to Blue Origin, on July 1, 2021. She’ll be part of a four-person crew that includes Jeff Bezos, his brother Mark, and Oliver Daemen, an 18-year-old Dutchman who will be the world’s youngest astronaut.
She will become the oldest person to fly to space if the mission is successful on July 20, 2021, succeeding John Glenn’s record of 77 years old set in 1998. (aboard STS-95).
Wally Funk – Personal life
Funk now lives in Roanoke, Texas. She enjoys sports and restoring old cars, and has a 1951 Hooper Silver Wraith in her collection. She has over 18,600 flight hours and continues to fly as an instructor every Saturday as of June 2019.
Wally Funk – Honors and awards
- Funk was the youngest woman to earn the Alumna Achievement Award at Stephens College when she received it in 1964.
- “In celebration of her excellent abilities, accomplishments, and dedication to her community, country, and profession,” Funk was named one of America’s Outstanding Young Women in 1965.
- Her life narrative was shot for the Traveling Space Museum in 2012.
- In 2017, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum engraved Wally Funk’s name on its Wall of Honor “in appreciation of your contribution to our aviation and exploration legacy.”
- In “Who’s Who in Aviation,” Funk is listed in.
Funk, who is 82 years old, is one of a dozen women known as the Mercury 13 in contrast to NASA’s initial astronauts, the Mercury 7. Funk and the other women pilots, like their male colleagues, aspired to fly even further, to space.
Twenty-five women applied, 19 were accepted, and 13 graduated, including Funk, who was 21 years old at the time. She outperformed John Glenn on some tests.
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