Female aviator gets second chance at elusive space travel

Mary “Wally” Funk is an aviation trailblazer from the 1960s, who is preparing for space flight in her late 70s.

SENIOR LIFE Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

As a 5-year-old girl, Mary Wallace “Wally” Funk tried to fly.

Donning a Superman costume, she jumped off the roof of a barn into a haystack, thinking the costume would make flight possible.

Funk, who is from Roanoke, Texas, did not give up her dream of flying. At the age of 20, after years of solo flights and completing an aviation program, she became a professional aviator.

Now 78 and with a string of impressive aviation credits to her name, Funk has paid $200,000 to be one of 500 potential civilian passengers from 50 countries to go up in a rocket into outer space. It is part of Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo mission from Spaceport America in New Mexico.

In the 1960s, Funk was one of the original 13 women who participated in the privately funded Mercury 13 program. She went through some of the same physiological screening tests as the male astronauts selected by NASA for Project Mercury.

Sadly, for this group of intrepid women, they never flew in space.

Now the deferred dream of going into space might be much closer
for Funk.

Funk, whose car license plate reads “A woman’s place is in the cockpit,” must maintain her physical health and stay in shape for the medical exam preceding the flight.