Former Bexley Aviator Remembers Historic 1964 Flight

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Jerrie Mock and her plane, Spirit of Columbus(Photo: International Women's Air and Space Museum, Burke Lakefront Airport, Cleveland, Ohio)
Jerrie Mock and her plane, Spirit of Columbus(Photo: International Women's Air and Space Museum, Burke Lakefront Airport, Cleveland, Ohio)

Forty-five years ago today, the assassination of President John Kennedy was still fresh in the minds of many Americans. The war in southeast Asia was escalating, and the Beatles invasion of the US was well underway. At Port Columbus, a 38-year-old mother of three from Bexley pulled herself up into a single engine Cessna aircraft and took off. Four weeks later, she landed back in Columbus and in the record books.

Geraldine (Jerrie) Mock says she had wanted to fly from the time she was a child. She and her husband Russ both completed pilot’s licenses when they were about 30 years old. In 1962, she went to work using old Air Force charts, pinned up in her basement, planning a flight around the world. She flew an 11 year old plane in what turned out to be a race around the globe against Joan Mirriam Smith. Mock says Smith had 10 times more flight experience along with a newer, faster plane. Smith took off from Oakland two days before Mock took off from Columbus. Both would experience numerous problems over the following weeks.

Another roar went up when the “woman who had done it” landed at Port Columbus after traveling some 23,000 miles in about four weeks. (Joan Mirriam Smith landed about three weeks later.) Mock is retired, living in Quincy, Florida and says she is “staying around long enough” for someone to make a movie about her flight.

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