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Who is Wally Funk? The oldest astronaut in the world

Who is Wally Funk

The denied dream for his genre finally comes true: who is Wally Funk, the 82-year-old pilot who will go into space for the first time with Jeff Bezos.

The space race has resumed vigorously, without the Cold War in the background and with the new protagonists of the third millennium. We have entered the era of the space tourism race, opened by the entrepreneur Richard Branson, who flew at an altitude of about 80/90 km from Earth with his Virgin Galactic.

But on the anniversary of the first moon landing, another space mission, led by Jeff Bezos, is preparing to leave. On board the New Sheperd rocket, Amazon’s CEO will take three people with him on a space flight. Among these there is one that has been waiting for this moment for more than half a century.

Who is Wally Funk?

The famous passenger from Bezos, Wally Funk, was born in 1939. she Since childhood she has been fascinated by airplanes and as a teenager she disassembles and builds models by herself.

At 16 she is already enrolling in university and at nineteen she obtains a pilot’s license. A year later he was already a flight instructor. Continuing with the aviation school he specializes in the flight of various aircraft, also receiving numerous awards for his achievements. Wally Funk has taught more than 3000 people to fly and is a true pioneer in his field. In 1971 she becomes the first female inspector of the Federal Aviation Administration, the most important American government agency that controls civil aviation, while in 1974 she is the first female aviation safety investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board.

The place denied to NASA

In 1961 Wally participated in Mercury 13, a program in which 13 women underwent the same training as Mercury 7, the group of NASA’s first astronauts to demonstrate how she didn’t count gender to be a good pilot. Wally completed the program in the top three, brilliantly passing all the complex physical and psychological texts. In a video published by Jeff Bezos she tells:

They told me that I had done better or completed the job before all the boys.
She had achieved what she had always dreamed of: a place to go in space. She did it with effort, commitment and dedication. Despite this, the federal government decided that women, as such, were not ready for space and therefore should not be allowed to use the military facilities necessary for space training. Thus, the women’s dream of Mercury 13 is shattered. You will have to wait until 1983 for the first American in space, astronaut Sally Ride. But finally, for Wally, the moment of her redemption comes 60 years later.

In space at 82

Jeff Bezos is not yet born when Wally is denied permission to participate in space missions, but he will learn his story and, when the time comes, he will have no doubts what to do. For the first space trip organized by his company, Blue Origin wants next to him the person who has waited the longest for this moment, and who perhaps deserves it the most: Wally Funk. With the presence of the famous aviator Bezos he certainly wanted to launch an important social message, but also to break an important record: Wally will be the oldest person to be launched into space.

The crew is ready for July 20, 2021: Jeff Bezos, his brother Mark, the eighteen-year-old Oliver Daeman and Wally Funk, who to those who ask her how she feels replies that she is no longer in her skin.

Written by Giorgia Stromeo

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