A Joke Taken Seriously

Geraldine “Jerrie” Mock, Upsilon (The Ohio State University), was the first woman to fly around the world.

Jerrie embarked on a historic flight in March of 1964. Her 1953 Cessna 180 airplane nicknamed “The Spirit of Columbus” enabled her to fly for 25 hours or 2,400 nautical miles at a time. On March 19, Jerrie flew from the Columbus, Ohio airport beginning a trip that would lead to her becoming the first woman to successfully fly solo around the world. Her 19-stop flight included Bermuda, Algeria, Pakistan, and India. Her total flight time was 29 days, 11 hours and 59 minutes for a total of 23,103.

Jerrie had many firsts during her flight:

  • First woman to land in Saudi Arabia
  • First woman to fly the pacific in a single-engine air craft
  • First woman to fly both major oceans solo
  • First woman to fly around the world.

There is no doubt that Jerrie Mock returned to Ohio a hero, and was awarded the gold Federal Aviation Medal for Exceptional Service by President Lyndon Johnson for her achievement on May 4, 1964. Her flight career did not end in 1964, as she set 21 speed and endurance records. She ended her career in 1969, when she flew her Cessna to Lae, New Guinea where a priest would use the plane for mission trips.

But how did Jerrie’s journey to fly around the world begin?

The adventure all stated in a conversation with her husband in 1962. Jerrie mentioned being a bored housewife who wanted more excitement and her husband jokingly suggested flying around the world. At the age of 38, with only 700 hours of flying time clocked and no international flying experience she would answer her husband’s challenge and earn a place in aviation history. No only did she make history, but she was also given the well-earned title, “the Flying Housewife.”

Source: Mary Jane Johnson, Phi Mu Archivist Emeritus and Phi Mu Fraternity National Historian