Ohio’s First Lady of Aviation
By Theresa Russell

We all have heard about Amelia Earhart, and her name lives on in history. But I admit that I didn’t even know the name of the first woman to fly solo around the world successfully. Thanks to a visit to The Works Museum in Newark, I learned more about this adventurous mom from Bexley.

Jerrie Mock learned to fly at a young age and wanted to see the world, a perfect incentive to fly herself around the world. She chose a modified Cessna 180 to fulfill her dream. A replica of the plane that she modified , aptly named the Spirit of Columbus, is at The Works in Newark (the original is on display as part of the National Air and Space Museum). The plane comes furnished complete with a typewriter she installed to send dispatches to none other than the Columbus Dispatch. Extra fuel tanks made long stretches of her flight possible. She set out from Port Columbus on March 19.


Jerrie, born in Newark, got wind of another woman attempting to do a similar flight. After 29 days of flying, Jerrie prevailed and set several records, including being the first woman to fly around the world, the first to fly across both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and she also set a speed record for her class of aircraft. She also set several other records. President Lyndon B. Johnson recognized her achievement by presenting her with the Federal Aviation Administration’s Exceptional Service Decoration. What an honor for a woman who described herself as “the flying housewife.”

This petite woman – standing only 5 feet tall and weighing just 100 pounds- insisted on dressing to make a good impression on the people of the countries where she landed. Her light blue skirt, white blouse and the high heels she wore are on display at the museum.

I took advantage of the opportunity to sit in the cockpit and pretend to be Jerrie Mock; I next tried out the flight simulator that is part of the display. Let’s just say that I crashed shortly after departing from the airport. From my visit, I learned that Jerrie has written a memoir Three-Eight Charlie, her plane’s tail number; I have put it on my booklist.


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