ST. LOUIS– Wally Funk became the oldest person to travel in space when she was on board Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin this morning. Funk, 82, went to college in Missouri.
Funk left high school at 16 and went to Stephens College in Columbia, Mo. According to the site the Ninety-Nines, Funk graduated with her Associates of Arts degree and was rated first in her class of 24 flyers.
In 1964, she received the Alumna Achievement Award for her work in aviation, becoming the youngest woman in the history of the school to earn that recognition.
Funk told Huck Magazine last month that her passion for flying started from a young age. She said when she was one-year-old, she tried to turn the nut and bolt on a DC-3 wheel and her parents exclaimed “oh, she’s gonna fly.” She went on to say she got her first flight lesson at nine.
At the age of 21, the Ninety-Nines report Funk volunteered for the “Women in Space” program that had the support of NASA.
Funk, from the Dallas area, was one of 13 female pilots who went through the same tests as NASA’s all-make astronaut corps in the early 1960s but never made it into space.
“I’ve been waiting a long time to finally get it up there,” Funk said after the flight. “I want to go again — fast,” she added.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.