According to one demographic statistic in the United States, 96.6% of the pilots are male, whereas 3.4% are female. This shows the gender gap and how easy it is for a male pilot to fly around the world compared to female aviators.
Between March 19 and April 17, 1964, Geraldine “Jerrie” Mock flew her single-engine Cessna 180 solo around the world, setting 21 world records. She was a barely five-foot-tall pilot who circumnavigated the world alone and flew 22860-mile flights.
She was born in 1925 when women were mostly considered homemakers and were only responsible for their house and kids. Men in those times used to look down upon women who would choose to either be an engineer or even a pilot.
Jerrie Mock was taken on an airplane ride when she was just seven by her father, and that is when she decided to become a pilot.
She was the only woman in her aviation engineering class at Ohio State University, and the men in her class usually were not welcoming toward her. Jerrie always dared to be different. She and her husband were working towards getting their flying license; by 1958, she was licensed to fly.
To fly around the world was an idea presented by her husband, which initially was a joke when she said she wanted her life to be more exciting. On March 19, 1964, she set off on her trip around the world, and Mock described herself as ‘the flying housewife’.
Two weeks into her history-making flight, Jerrie landed in Saudi Arabia, and a crowd of men had gathered. They were confused upon seeing only a woman next to the plane. One shouted there was “no man”, which inspired a “rousing ovation”.
Twenty-nine days later, on April 18, 1964, Jerrie made history when she touched down at Ohio’s Port Columbus airport, becoming the first woman to fly solo around the world.
Racing to Greet the Sun
In 1964, Jerrie Mock and Joan Merriam Smith flew their respective planes, and they found themselves in a duel to become the first lady pilot to circumnavigate around the world.
Joan Smith flew a few weeks earlier than Jerrie Mock; however, the latter won the title. Nevertheless, Smith completed her task and became the first person to complete the longest single solo flight worldwide. Racing to Greet the Sun is the book which describes the race between the two.
Who was the First Woman to Fly the Atlantic Solo?
Amelia Mary Earhart, born July 24, 1897, was an American aviator who became well-known in 1928 when, as a member of a three-person crew, she became the first woman to cross the Atlantic Ocean in an aircraft and was invited to visit the White House.
Earhart was born in Atchison, Kansas and her upbringing by her mother was unconventional as she did not believe in raising her children to be nice little girls.
In 1917 when she was visiting her sister in Toronto, World War I was raging, and she saw the wounded soldiers returning.
Earhart became a nurse’s aide at Red Cross after receiving her training. During this time, Earhart heard stories from military pilots and developed an interest in flying.
On December 28, 1920, Earhart and her father attended an aerial meet where she booked a passenger flight the following day.
The cost was $10 for a 10-minute flight with Frank Hawks. It was during this flight that she knew she had to fly. So, she worked various jobs and saved $1,000 for flying lessons.
On October 22, 1922, she set a new world record for female pilots by flying her aeroplane to an altitude of 14000 feet.
On June 17, 1928, she and a couple of male pilots flew from Newfoundland, Canada, all the way over to Wales, which took about 21 hours.
When interviewed after landing, she said, “Stultz did all the flying. I was just baggage, like a sack of potatoes; maybe someday I’ll try it alone”.
In 1932 she fulfilled her dream and became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. Earhart travelled 2,000 miles from Newfoundland in just under 15 hours and arrived in Ireland.
Five years later, in 1937, Earhart disappeared whilst attempting to fly around the world alongside her co-pilot. With only 7,000 miles to go, the plane’s radio signal cut out near Howland Island in the South Pacific on July 2 1937, and she was declared dead in 1939.
How Old was the Youngest Woman Ever to Fly Solo Around the World?
Zara Rutherford, a Belgian- British aviator at the age of 19, became the youngest woman to fly around the world and the first person to complete a circumnavigation in a microlight aircraft. The journey took five months and began in Kortrijk, Belgium, on August 18 2021, and ended on January 20 2022.
Rutherford grew up around aeroplanes where her father was a commercial pilot, and her mother was a recreational pilot. It was only natural for Zara to get into flying while kids her age were still trying to perfect their driving skills. She started learning to fly at 14 and got her aviator’s license in 2020.
She broke the record of Shaesta Waiz (aged 30) for being the youngest woman to travel around the world solo and reduced the gender gap by 11 years between the current youngest male record holder Travis Ludlow, 18 at the time of his record.
Zara accomplished her dream of flying solo around the world and now has her sight set on stars, literally. She wants to become an astronaut and explore space.
All these women have set the bar high and have encouraged and inspired other women to pursue their dreams, even flying around the world solo.
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