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Geraldine "Jerrie" Mock, the Ohio housewife who became the first female pilot to fly solo around the world, died Tuesday in her sleep at her Quincy, Florida home, grandson Chris Flocken said Wednesday. She was 88 and had been in declining health for months.
She was inspired as a child by Amelia Earhart. But while she considered Earhart her hero, Mock said she didn't dwell on the aviation pioneer's fate as she made her own journey 27 years after Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan disappeared in the South Pacific while Earhart was trying to become the first female aviator around the globe.
Mock played down her trip as a fun adventure. She flew her single-engine Cessna 180 "Spirit of Columbus" 23,000 miles in 29-plus days before landing in Ohio's capital city on April 17, 1964. On her trip, she made stops in places such as the Azores, Casablanca, Cairo and Calcutta.
"Airplanes are meant to fly. I was completely confident in my plane," she said in an interview in April.
Dubbed "the flying housewife" at the time, the Newark, Ohio, native was a mother of three in suburban Columbus but also an experienced pilot who studied aeronautical engineering at Ohio State University. She spent months planning her flight with aviation experts and veteran pilots.
She is survived by a daughter, after being preceded in death by her two sons. She had 12 grandchildren. Flocken said Mock didn't want a funeral service. Instead, as she had requested, she will be cremated, with her ashes to be scattered from a plane flying over the Gulf of Mexico.
- Associated Press