1964: An Aviation Pioneer is Honored at a Rose Garden Ceremony

May 4, 1964

Geraldine “Jerrie” Mock, less than three weeks after becoming the first woman to fly solo around the world, was awarded the Federal Aviation Agency’s Decoration for Exceptional Service by President Lyndon B. Johnson. This presentation took place in the Rose Garden at the White House. The 38-year-old Mock, in circumnavigating the globe by herself in a 1953 Cessna 180 single-engine monoplane called the Spirit of Columbus, did what no other woman — a prominent example being Amelia Earhart — had managed to accomplish before.

Mock’s flight began when she left Columbus, Ohio, on March 19, 1964. This flight took a total of 29 days, 11 hours, and 59 minutes to complete, and it involved 21 stopovers. The National Aeronautic Association and the Federal Aeronautique Internationale (FAI) monitored Mock’s flight, and also certified it as setting the around-the-world speed record for aircraft weighing less than 3,858 pounds (1,750 kilograms).

“We are very proud of Jerrie Mock,” proclaimed Johnson when presenting her with the Federal Aviation Agency’s highest award. Mock was only the second person outside of that agency to receive the award. Johnson also used the presentation to announce that he was appointing Mock as vice chairperson of the Women’s Aviation Committee, a consulting group to the Federal Aviation Agency. (This agency has since been renamed the Federal Aviation Administration.)

Mock would also receive other honors such as the Louis Bleriot medal from FAI; the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Special Award; and Trans World Airlines’ Milestones in Manned Flight Trophy. The U.S. Air Force named a street after her at Rickenbacker Air Force Base (now Rickenbacker International Airport) near Columbus, Ohio. In addition, a plaque summarizing her airborne achievements can be found in Florida at Tallahassee International Airport’s Aviation Wall of Fame. Mock died on September 30, 2014, at the age of 88.

Photo Credit: Public Domain

For more information on Jerrie Mock, please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerrie_Mock

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