The Spirit of Columbus
Few seem to remember this unassuming young Midwestern housewife, who successfully accomplished what Amelia Earhart had tried, unsuccessfully, to do in the mid 1930’s. Jerrie completed her around the globe flight in only 29 days – all in a small single engine Cessna 180, a mass produced general aviation airplane – not the much more powerful twin engine class of aircraft used by the famous Earhart some 27 years earlier. And, unlike Ms. Earhart, who had a male navigator on board to help her find her way, Mrs. Mock was completely alone and had never before attempted any sort of record setting flight – of any kind.
Jerrie’s circumnavigation of the world started off on a frighteningly bad foot, as she eked her way from Columbus, Ohio, to the Bermuda Islands, in the Atlantic Ocean. Once over the ocean, she discovered that her radios didn’t work, so flew in silence until close enough to reach the island airport control tower with her over-the-land short distance VHF radio. It would have been very easy for Ms. Mock to have completely missed the Bermuda destination, since there were no landmarks, and the island, when seen from her altitude, was but a small speck in the endless sea, which stretched from horizon to horizon.
Jerrie’s loss is a personal one for this writer, who had known Jerrie when she did this amazing and highly perilous feat, 50 years ago. Six years after her successful cirumnavigation, Jerrie published a book chronicling her adventure, and titled it Three-Eight Charlie. In commemoration of this fiftieth anniversary of her record-setting flight, a special new edition was just published and is available both on line in PDF format, or in hard copy.
When the FASF completes setting up its online store, you will be able to purchase Jerrie’s thrilling tale directly from the Foundation, but, in the meantime, just click on either the book’s title above, or on the special edition’s cover, shown on the left, below. Having read Jerrie’s documentary of the flight, I can attest to its exciting depiction of her adventure as it unfolded. It’s a cliff hanger, and not easy to put aside once started. An adventure few who read it will ever forget.
“Nobody was going to tell me I couldn’t do it because I was a woman,” said Mock, who often wore a skirt and blouse on her flight and frequently put on high heels, after landings, before alighting on the airport tarmacks from her ship’s cabin.
A life-sized bronze statue depicting Mock holding a globe was unveiled just this past April at Port Columbus (OH) Airport on the 50th anniversary of her flight, and it was also memorialized with an exhibit at the National Air and Space Museum. See a photo of this statue down below.
What is especially sad is that Jerrie was to be nominated as a member of the FASF’s Board of Advisors at this coming November’s meeting of the FASF Board of Trustees. Negotiations were already underway, when her untimely death terminated the arrangements.
Here, for your information, is a summation of her record making achievements:
Name : Geraldine Mock
Nationality : American
Licences: Private with Instrument Rating
Flying experience at time of flight : 750 hours
Name : “Spirit of Columbus” & dubbed “Three-Eight Charlie”
Registration : N 1538C
Make : Cessna
Type : C 180 (1953 Model)
Engine : Continental 0-470-J
Length : 26 ft, 2 in. (7.98 m.)
Wing span : 36 in. (10.97 m.)
Height : 7ft. 9 in. ( 2.36 m.)
Maximum weight : 2,550 Ibs (1,160 kg.)
Maximum fuel capacity : 178 gallons
Cruising speed : 145 knots (167 MPH)
The Cessna Company gave Jerrie Mock another Cessna (a C P206) in exchange for N1538C. It was exhibited at the factory in Wichita until 1975 when it went to the National Air and Space Museum where it was displayed until recently. It is now in Maryland (with Wiley Post’s Winnie Mae) at one of the repair facilities and can only be seen by appointment. Since 2010, ‘Charlie’ had been on exhibit at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, Washington D.C
Departure point : Columbus (Ohio)
Departure date : March 19, 1964
Arrival point : Columbus, OH
Arrival date : April 17, 1964
Duration in days : 29 days 11 hours 59 minutes
Duration in hours : Approx. 158 hours
Average speed : 120 knots (138 MPH)
En route stops : Kindley AFB (Bermuda), Santa Maria (Azores), Casablanca (Morroco), Tangier, Bone (Algeria), Tripoli (Lybia), Cairo (Egypt), Dhahran (Saudi Arabia), Karachi (Pakistan), Delhi (India), Bangkok (Thailand), Manila (Philippines), Guam Island, Wake Island, Honolulu (Hawaii), Oakland (California), Tucson, El Paso, Bowling Green (Kentucky), and, finally, Columbus, OH.
Equator : Did not cross the Equator.
Incidents/accidents : No major breakdown, however she had serious problems with the brakes, the HF antenna reel, and the ship’s tail wheel.
Records set :
- Around the world in Class C1-c for women.
- Around the world for men and women
Firsts (Non-official records) :
- First woman to fly the North Atlantic from the US to Africa
- First woman to fly both oceans
- First woman to fly the Pacific from West to east
- First woman to fly the Pacific in both directions
- First woman to fly solo around the world
Other records set by Jerrie Mock :
- 1965: Speed on close circuit of 500 km in Class C1-c.
- 1966: Distance in straight line, feminine record.
- 1968: Distance in a close circuit, feminine record.
- 1968: Speed on a recognized course : (Columbus (Ohio) to San Juan (Puerto Rico), Class C1-d and feminine record.
San Juan to Columbus, Class C1-d and feminine record.
- 1969: Speed on a recognized course : Oakland (California to Honolulu) Class C1-d and feminine record.
Oakland to Rabaul (Papua New Guinea) feminine record.
Honolulu to Tarawa (Kiribati) Class C1-d and feminine record.
Tarawa to Honiara (Guadalcanal) Class C1-d and feminine record.
Honiara to Rabaul, Class C1-d and feminine record.
Geraldine Mock received a great number of awards. Among them:
- Federal Aviation Agency Gold Metal for Exceptional Service
- Louis Bleriot Silver Metal(World-Wide award of Fédération Aéronautique Internationale)
- American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Special Award
- Experimental Aircraft Association Special Award
- Amelia Earhart Memorial Award, 1964
- Aero Classic Aviation Progress Award, 1965
- Glenn Hammond Curtiss Silver Metal, Pittsburgh OX-5 Club
- Women’s Aero Association of Wichita Award
Sponsors : The flight was sponsored by many aircraft parts manufactures and service providers of the day, especially Cessna and Continental (engine), Champion Spark Plugs, etc.
Above, U. S. Air Force Pilots walk back from their Jet Fighters (F-15’s) in Elmendorf, Alaska, which helps serve to exemplify the vast changes Jerrie’s Record Setting flight helped bring about in the U.S. Military – as well as in civil aviation here – – – and around the world she successfully encircled. All Military Services and the U.S. Coast Guard now have female pilots, and there are also many women now commanding U.S. Airliners throughout the world. Something unheard of, when Jerrie braved to do what no other woman had ever successfully achieved – – – only fifty years ago.
To hear a 15 minute interview in March of this year (2014) of Jerrie by CarolAnn Garratt re her remembrances. (Just click on this sentence or photo of Jerrie’s famous Cessna Aircraft below – – – the interview has a number of rarely seen photos from the Jerrie Mock Collection.)
Godspeed, Jerrie. In your humble and quiet way, you accomplished something remarkable, and helped give your sister aviators opportunities hardly imaginable but half a century ago. Those who were privileged to know you will miss your cheerful and positive influence and wonderfully enthusiastic and warm demeanor.
Other news stories posted since we put up this story: Plane Tales, Gone West; 38 Charlie Facebook Page; CBS TV News; L.A. Times Story; Newsday; The Desert Sun Obit; Tributes.Com: and, last, Bio written by Jerrie’s granddaughter, Rita Juanita Mock (This is an unusual Bio, since it reveals things only a granddaughter might know about her grandmother).
Ric Lambart – October 1, 2014 – Columbus, New Mexico