Trailblazing Female Pilot Mary Wallace “Wally” Funk to Travel to Space with Billionaire Jeff Bezos

Trailblazing female pilot, Mary Wallace “Wally” Funk, who was denied becoming an astronaut in the 1960s because of her gender, will travel to space with billionaire Jeff Bezos.

Bezos’ aerospace company Blue Origin announced in a statement on July 1 that Funk will fly to space as an “honored guest” in the company’s first human flight on July 20, joining Bezos, his brother Mark, and the winner of a charity auction.

Funk would become the oldest person to go to space at the age of 82.

“No one has waited longer… It’s time. Welcome to the crew,” Bezos said on Instagram.

Funk was among the first women trained to fly to space in Mercury 13, a privately funded space program, in 1961. She was the youngest graduate of the program.

However, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration denied her of becoming an astronaut four times, even though she “had done better and completed the work faster than any of the guys,” Funk said in a video posted by Bezos on Instagram.

“They said, ‘Well, you’re a girl, you can’t do that.’ I said, ‘Guess what, doesn’t matter what you are. You can still do it if you want to do it and I like to do things that nobody has ever done,” Funk said in the video.

Funk was the first female inspector for the Federal Aviation Administration in 1971 and was the first female air safety investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board in 1974.

Funk also said that she has 19,600 flying hours and has taught over 3,000 people to fly.

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