Jerrie Mock’s Historic Flight

Jerrie Mock was the first woman to fly solo around the world.

Geraldine Fredritz Mock was born on November 22, 1925 in Newark, Ohio. Mock became interested in planes at the age of 7, when her father took her to the cockpit of a Ford Trimotor airplane. In 1943, Mock started at Ohio State University, studying aeronautical engineering. She left Ohio State in 1945 to marry Russell Mock.

Mock settled into a life as a housewife and mother to three children, but continued to pursue her interest in aviation. At 32, she earned her pilot’s license. A blog post from the National Air and Space Museum explained the origins of Mock’s groundbreaking flight, “She and her husband Russell loved to fly around the Midwest and but she longed to visit countries she had always dreamed of as a child. Russ suggested a world flight and Jerrie enthusiastically said why not?”[i] Sponsored by the Columbus Dispatch, Mock moved up her flight date when she heard another woman, Joan Merriman Smith, was also planning a trip around the world.

The "Spirit of Columbus", from the Ohio Historical Society collections, SC 202.

The “Spirit of Columbus”, from the Ohio Historical Society collections, SC 202.

On March 19, 1964, Mock took off from Columbus in her plane, the Spirit of Columbus, a Cessna 180. Mock’s trip around the world took twenty-nine days, eleven hours, and fifty-nine minutes, returning to Columbus on April 17, 1964; Mock flew 23,103 miles. During this flight, Mock set the round-the-world speed record for planes that weighed less than 3,858 pounds. In addition to aviation accomplishments, Mock was an ambassador of sorts, trading in her trademark pants in for a more formal skirt and jacket.

As a result of Mock’s historic flight, President Lyndon Baines Johnson awarded her the Federal Aviation Administration’s Exceptional Service Decoration. In 1975, Mock’s Cessna was donated to the National Air and Space Museum. The Federation Aeronautique Internationale honored her with the Louis Bleriot Medal, the organization’s highest honor. She was the first woman and also the first U.S. citizen to receive the medal.

Mock never flew the Spirit of Columbus after her historic flight, but continued to her aviation career, setting several more records. The Spirit of Columbus was donated to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Mock currently lives in Florida; when recently asked about her historic flight, Mock, 88, explained, ““You call it an accomplishment. I just call it having fun.” [ii]

Emily Lang, History Curator

Bibliography:

Cochrane , Dorothy. “Celebrating Jerrie Mock, the First Woman to Fly Around the World.” National Air and Space Museum. http://blog.nasm.si.edu/aviation/celebrating-jerrie-mock-the-first-woman-to-fly-around-the-world/ (accessed April 1, 2014).

Deitch, Linda. “Jerrie Mock’s Historic Flight Began 50 years Ago This Morning.” The Columbus Dispatch, March 19, 2014.

“50 Years Later, ‘Flying Housewife’, Mock Recalls Fun of Becoming First Woman Pilot to Fly Around the World .” TribLIVE.com. http://triblive.com/usworld/nation/5938383-74/mock-flight-pilot#axzz2yrkX0Bov (accessed April 14, 2014).

 

[i] Cochrane , Dorothy. “Celebrating Jerrie Mock, the First Woman to Fly Around the World.” National Air and Space Museum. http://blog.nasm.si.edu/aviation/celebrating-jerrie-mock-the-first-woman-to-fly-around-the-world/ (accessed April 1, 2014).

[ii] “50 Years Later, ‘Flying Housewife’, Mock Recalls Fun of Becoming First Woman Pilot to Fly Around the World .” TribLIVE.com. http://triblive.com/usworld/nation/5938383-74/mock-flight-pilot#axzz2yrkX0Bov (accessed April 14, 2014).

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