[dropcap size=small]B[/dropcap]efore she was the first woman to circumnavigate the globe by airplane, Jerrie Mock was a housewife. She had graduated the only female aeronautical engineering major in her class at Ohio State, but, ‘in 1945, for a woman, a career in aviation wasn’t realistic.’
Uh-huh. Sure. In 1964, the amateur pilot left behind her husband and kids, set off around the world in a single-engine Cessna, and knocked the socks off the American public. She flew at breakneck speed in deplorable conditions in order to beat her saboteur rival, Joan Merriam Smith, for the honor of being the first female pilot to fly round the world. Mock was back on U.S. soil in less than a month, ahead of Smith by three weeks…before she disappeared from the public eye entirely. Today more Americans are familiar with Amelia Earhart, who failed to circumnavigate the globe, than they are with Jerrie Mock, the woman who actually did it.
This article over at Buzzfeed tries to untangle the complex reasons why Mock faded into obscurity–and shares stories from the celebrations being held this year to honor the 50th anniversary of her accomplishment. At last this world-class misadventurer–now 88-years-old–is being awarded her rightful place in the history books.