Wally Funk, recognized as a WIA Woman of Excellence, has been flying professionally for 37 years and has accumulated over 14,200 hours of flying time. Throughout her life, Wally has participated in a wide variety of activities and positions, all focused around a central theme of flying.
At the age of sixteen, Wally entered Stephen's College in Columbia, Missouri, where her efforts in aviation were recognized when she became the youngest woman in the history of the college to receive the Alumna Achievement Award. This was to be the first of many high honors in Wallyıs aviation career. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Education and earned her Commercial, Single-engine Land, Multi-engine Land, Single-engine Sea, Instrument, Flight Instructor and Ground Instructor's ratings at Oklahoma State University. She continued her success at the university by receiving numerous trophies and titles, including officer of the famous ³Flying Aggies.²
After starting out her career as a flight instructor, Wally volunteered in 1961 for the "Women in Space" program with an independent clinic which had the support but not the official sponsorship of NASA. She, along with only 25 other women, underwent a series of rigorous physical and mental tests and Wally passed with a very high average, rating third in the field of 13 qualifying candidates or "Mercury 13." Although the first female astronaut program was suspended, Wally and her dozen counterparts were the first women to pass all tests with very high marks and qualify for the Mercury astronaut program.
The accomplished female flier has since held many positions, including flight instructor and goodwill flying ambassador. In 1971, she was the first woman to successfully complete the FAA General Aviation Operations Instructor Academy course. Two years later, Wally was promoted to FAA Systems Worthiness Analysis Program (SWAP) as a specialist, the first woman in the United States to hold this position.
Wally has also participated in several Air Races, earning high marks including first place in the Pacific Air Race from San Diego to Santa Rosa, California. She has appeared on numerous television and radio programs and has been featured in such magazines and books as "Life," "Ms Magazine," and the Illustrated Encyclopedia of Aviation in Space.
On December 9, 1974, Wally became the first female investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board. Since then, she has completed extensive trainings for all aspects of aviation, competed in several Air Races, created two FAA Safety Films and made countless presentations for aviation organizations, such as the Ninety-Nines. In 1985, the Federal Aviation Administration made Wally an FAA Safety Counselor and Wally was appointed Chief Pilot at Emery Aviation College in 1987. Wally continues to conduct seminars at various colleges, universities and conventions. Officially, her ratings include: ATP - CFI-AI - MEL - GLIDER - IGI - GS - AIR SAFETY INVESTIGATOR.
Dunn, Marcia. "60s Candidate Still Wants her Space Shot." Newspaper Source. North Carolina: The Charlotte Observer, July 12, 1998.
Wally Funk. Online Source. Available http://www.ninety-nines.org/funk.html, June 1998.
Woman of Excellence July 1997. Online Source. Available http://www.women-in- aviation.com/excel/wfunk.html, June 1998.