Bea on Columbia
Born in Oklahoma in 1931, Jerrie took her first flight at the age of 12 in the backseat of an open-cockpit biplane, a Waco flown by her father. That was all it took, and she no longer came back to Earth. She gained her Private Pilot's license at age 17, her Commercial Pilot's license when she was 18 and Flight Instructor's Rating soon thereafter. As someone who embodies the soul of a pilot rather than the mechanics of an "airplane driver", Jerrie is more suited to the air than earthly constraints.
She was determined to gain a career in aviation, and as a PILOT rather than a Flight Attendant or other female engendered occupation of that era. Being the 1950's it was nearly impossible for her to land a job as a pilot, so she settled for a job in Miami, Florida at the Miami airport. It was there she met Jack Ford, a veteran pilot of WWII who had a service ferrying aircraft worldwide. She talked him into a job, and her first flight was to South America flying the advanced trainer of that era, the AT-6 Texan. This first trip was indicative of the danger inherent in this job and thus began her professional pilot career. While ferrying aircraft for this firm with Jack, she flew all types of aircraft worldwide, including sleek military aircraft - she even flew 4 engine bombers to France!
After many hours "behind the stick", she gained a wonderful reputation in the aviation community, and had to be the most experienced in the high performance propeller aircraft of her day. This lead to her invitation to the Lovelace Clinic in Albuquerque, NM - the same clinic and doctors, the same program, that selected the astronauts who later became the Mercury 7. She did so well in this testing that she assisted in selecting and recruiting others for this program. Jerrie progressed far further than the other applicants, due to a head start.
Denied a chance to go into space due to "gender" and the "accepted social order of their time" (as quoted by John Glenn), she became a consultant for NASA, but quit after some years due to not having any impact on anything. She currently is under consideration by NASA for a future flight.
After this disappointment, Jerrie scrounged up an old twin engine Aero Commander, and embarked on a new career in the Amazon jungles as a missionary pilot. She holds world records for speed, altitude and distance that were set in the 1950's, and after she embarked on her career as a missionary pilot, was nominated for the nobel Peace Prize.
As you can see, Jerrie holds many accomplishments in aviation, far more than a LOT of male aviators. She has not rested on these laurels, but continues to fly medical and other missionary flights in the Amazon. She attended all three launches of Eileen Collin's missions. At her last launch, Jerrie had the chance to meet with First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and NASA Administrator Daniel Goldin. At that time, Mr. Goldin agreed Jerrie would be the perfect candidate to go into space for geriatric and aging studies, as she already has the same base medical profile as does Mercury 7 astronaut John Glenn (who recently went back into space). When Glenn's results were released by the National Institute of Health, Mr. Goldin suggested the next logical step would be to fly an older female to further these studies. Who would be better suited for this than Jerrie Cobb? And make no mistake, Jerrie is ready to go, and continues to lobby for a flight. We are doing everything we can to assist her with this dream, and would encourage those of you that agree to contact your Congressmen or any others who may be able to help. Email me directly (Al Hallonquist) for further information. Here is a chance for our government to right a wrong, and for NASA to do so as well.
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