Wally Funk is an aviation pioneer. Selected as a pilot to take part in America’s Woman in Space Program in 1961, she became one of the ‘Mercury 13’ - the thirteen women who passed the strict physical and psychological astronaut tests that were also used to select the famous male Mercury 7 astronauts. Denied a chance to go into space, she continued her flying career and became both the first female FAA inspector in the US and air crash investigator for the National Transportation and Safety Board.
Sue Nelson, author of Wally Funk’s Race for Space, joins Wally for an 'in-conversation’ about Wally’s aviation career and long held desire to be an astronaut - this time on board a commercial spaceplane - and how it’s about to become a reality.
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Sue Nelson is an award-winning journalist specialising in science and space. A former BBC TV news science correspondent and Radio 4 presenter, she produces radio programmes, the monthly Space Boffins podcast and short films - including films on science missions for the European Space Agency. Her BBC World Service documentary on the history of women in space won a 2017 New York Festivals International Radio Program award.
Wally Funk is a pilot and one of the few remaining members of the Mercury 13. These were the thirteen women pilots who passed privately funded astronaut tests in the United States in 1960-61 yet were never given the opportunity to go into space. At that time Wally was the only female civilian flight instructor at the Fort Sill military base in Oklahoma. After passing the rigorous astronaut tests - 87 in five days - she travelled the world, passed further astronaut tests and continued her aviation career. She became America's first female Federal Aviation Administration inspector and the first woman appointed an air crash safety investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board. In 2010, Wally bought a ticket to fly on board a Virgin Galactic space plane. She is hoping to get into space and finally become an astronaut in 2019.
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