The Mercury 13 were the first group of American pilots to pass the Woman in Space programme. Wally sailed through a series of rigorous physical and mental tests, with one of her scores beating all the male Mercury 7 astronauts’, including John Glenn’s, the first American in orbit.
But just one week before the final phase of training, the programme was abruptly cancelled. A combination of politics and prejudice meant that none of the women ever flew into space. Undeterred, Wally went on to become America’s first female aviation safety inspector, though her dream of being an astronaut never dimmed.
In her new book, journalist and space buff Sue Nelson joins Wally, now approaching her eightieth birthday, as she races to make her own giant leap, before it’s too late. Covering their travels across the United States and Europe – taking in NASA’s mission control in Houston, the European Space Agency’s HQ in Paris and Spaceport America in New Mexico, where Wally’s ride into space awaits – this is a uniquely intimate and entertaining portrait of a true aviation trailblazer.
A DAILY MAIL BOOK OF THE WEEK
Wally Funk’s character leaps off the page … fantastic and so inspirational. Naga Munchetty, BBC Breakfast
THE BIOGRAPHY OF WALLY FUNK AS SEEN IN THE ACCLAIMED MAJOR NETFLIX DOCUMENTARY MERCURY 13
This event is part of Essex Book Festival’s Science & the Imagination weekendat Anglia Ruskin University and other venues in Chelmsford, taking place on Saturday 30 & Sunday 31 March.