On March 19th, 1964 when Jerrie took off from the Columbus, Ohio airport, she was a 38 year old homemaker, not a commercial pilot, few of whom would ever attempt such a death defying journey.
Her tiny aircraft, "The Spirit of Columbus" was an 11 year old single engine Cessna with just a few modifications: Three more fuel tanks, an autopilot system and special radios.
5 foot tall, 100 pound Jerrie, a mother of three put her trust in her abilities and ventured into the unknown.
She was determined to achieve what her hero, Amelia Earhart and Amelia’s navigator Fred Noonan had lost their lives doing in 1937, trying to fly around the world.
For the next 29 days, Jerrie flew over the Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean, and the Arabian Sea and over the Pacific, landing in among many places Bermuda, the Azores, Casablanca, Cairo, Calcutta, Bangkok and Honolulu.
Jerrie Mock's Route Around The World
Often Jerrie was confronted with danger:
The danger could be as terifing as running low on fuel before reaching your planned destination, or flying into darkness without a clear understanding of the terrain or weather that lies ahead.
While flying over Bermuda, Jerrie’s tiny aircraft was buffeted by strong winds, and tossed about.
After finally landing safely in Bermuda, Jerrie then flew the long 2,200 mile trip from Bermuda to the Azores in the North Atlantic. During this trip her wings iced, nearly crashing the plane.
But Jerrie managed to climb her plane above the clouds and fortunately, the ice melted.
Another time, a burning wire in her cockpit, a cockpit packed with extra fuel tanks, could easily have triggered an explosion. But Jerrie managed to quickly put the fire out.
But perhaps the greatest danger was that for nearly a month in the air, Jerrie heard the endless roar of her Cessna’s single engine propeller. She knew that if that roar stopped, the ocean, a mountain peak or a desert could become her final resting place.
Then on April 17th, 1964: 29 days and 23,103 miles after her original takeoff, Jerry landed at the Columbus airport as thousands of people cheered for her.
Among the many congratulatory telegrams she received was one from Muriel Earhart Morrissey, Amelia Earhart’s sister, who wrote, "I rejoice with you."
And Jerrie was invited to the White House and given an award by President Lyndon Johnson.
Jerrie went on to set several speed records and never lost her love of flying. However recently at the age of 88, she passed away at her Quincy, Florida home.
But Jerrie was a trailblazer, a woman who made history, an example to others to say if only you will take action, you too can achieve whatever is in your heart.