I want to end the week with something positive. There ain’t much out there. I found this though… Wally Funk.
You know her. The 82-year-old astronaut who went to the edge of space with Jeff Bezos. 82 years old and yet she looked like a kid on Christmas morning when she stepped out of that spaceship.
I’m not sure when I have seen joy like that.
On the way up, Wally Funk taped a postcard to the window of the spacecraft. It was of herself and the American flag. She said, “I’m going to take a picture with it with the earth behind me.” Now, that’s a selfie.
When she got back down, Funk said, “I loved every minute of it. I just wish it had been longer.”
Wally Funk’s backstory is fascinating. Mary Wallace Funk was one of the Mercury 13. According to Wikipedia, those thirteen women successfully underwent the same psychological screenings as the men selected by NASA for the Mercury project. It was the 1960’s. You can figure out what happened to them. Nothing. No woman back then was ever selected to go into space.
Wally Funk didn’t let it get her down. Just look at her bio.
She was the first female air safety investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board, the first female civilian flight instructor at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and the first female Federal Aviation Agency inspector.
Impressive resume. But she was always an astronaut at heart. Wally’s dream came true when Jeff Bezos came knocking. He wanted her to be his guest on Blue Origin’s first flight.
Side bar: Wally Funk had already purchased a ticket for Virgin Galactic’s ship into space for $200,000. Refund, Mr. Branson?
Here’s the thing… I grew up loving the space program. Watched every launch. Those astronauts were my heroes. Never once did I hear of the women that trained as hard as the men.
Wally Funk’s story reminds me of “Hidden Figures.” The book and movie about the African American women who were there and helped launch our space program. I’m glad these stories are finally being told.
Back to Wally. On not getting to be an astronaut early on in her life, she told the New York Times, “I was brought up that when things don’t work out, you go to your alternative.”
Don’t you love that? “You go to your alternative.” I want to meet Wally Funk. Feel her energy. Feel her joy.
Wally Funk has lived a full life. She has done it all. She finally made it into space. She’s not done either. She’s still got a ticket to go up on Virgin Galactic. I’ll bet she goes.
Coronavirus. Wildfires. The news has been tough this week. Wally Funk helped pull me through.