First woman to fly around the world solo dies

Jerrie Mock stopped in Oakland on April 16, 1964 after she flew across the Pacific Ocean. (AP Photo/Robert W. Klein)

The first woman to fly around the world solo has died.

Jerrie Mock was 38 when she took off from Columbus, Ohio, in 1964, two days after another woman tried to follow Amelia Earhart.

She made it in 29 days and not many people noticed.

“Amelia Earhart was lost, and that was news,” Cliff Kelling, a mechanic on her plane said. “Jerrie Mock wasn’t lost, and that wasn’t news.”

The Columbus Dispatch carries her obituary today.

Mock was 38 and a full-time mother of three living in Bexley when she took off from Port Columbus on March 19, 1964. A licensed pilot for only seven years who had never flown farther than the Bahamas, Mock crossed both oceans in the Spirit of Columbus, an 11-year-old Cessna freshly painted to cover cracks and corrosions.

The last she heard from the Columbus control tower: “Well, I guess that’s the last we’ll hear from her.”

There were mechanical problems, storms and communication breakdowns. She mistakenly landed at a restricted air force base in Egypt and was detained until darkness fell.

In Saudi Arabia, the 5-foot brunette exited the plane to a silent crowd that patiently waited for the pilot to emerge. When they realized she was the pilot, the people erupted in cheers, appreciating the oddity that a woman was the flier.

“There’s no man!” they exclaimed.

(h/t: Bernie Ockuly)