On April 17th, 1964 Geraldine Mock became the first woman pilot to fly solo around the world. She began her flight on March 19th, 1964 in Columbus, Ohio and ended it 29 days later.
Mock made her flight in a 1953 single-engine Cessna christened “The Spirit of Columbus.” Mock was very thorough in making her flight preparations. She spent some 18 months preparing for her flight. This included studying the route she would take, checking the aircraft, and testing equipment. Two fuel tanks were fitted into the cabin to give “The Spirit of Columbus” more endurance.
During her flight she covered 22,858 miles and flew for a total of 158 flying hours (she took breaks). Her trip was not without complications or challenges. Shortly after beginning her journey, the radio on the plane failed to work. She faced a strong cross wind over Bermuda, icing on the way to Casablanca, and problems with her instruments. She even missed one stop over destination and accidentally landed at a secret military base at Inshass, Egypt! She had to endure over two hours of interrogation before being allowed to take off again.
Mock set several world records and won many awards after completing her flight. After completing her flight, she never flew “The Spirit of Columbus” again. The Cessna Company gifted her a new plane in exchange for it, and today the “The Spirit of Columbus” is housed at the National Air and Space Museum at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.
Even today, there are very few pilots who would be capable of flying a machine like her Cessna around the airfield, let alone around the world. Geraldine Mock was and still is, a badass.