SOUTHLAKE, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – A legendary aviation pioneer who lives right here in North Texas will soon be fulfilling a decades long dream.
Three weeks from now, 82 year-old Wally Funk will be rocketing into space alongside Amazon founder Jeff Bezos as his “honored guest” in Blue Origin’s New Shepard launch from West Texas.READ MORE: Texas Officer Dies After Crash With 18-Wheeler While Responding To Emergency
Some of Funk’s closest friends from church couldn’t be more thrilled.
When Funk first walked into White’s Chapel Church in Southlake several years ago, she instantly made an impression.
“We met because I’m the senior director of the church for senior activities here and somebody in the church said you need to meet Wally Funk because she’d be perfect for a speaker,” Laurie Williams said.
As Williams introduced herself, she quickly learned about all of Funk’s accomplishments.
“She is a living testimony that you can do anything you set your mind to,” she said.
In the 1960s Funk became one of the “Mercury 13,” entering the “Women In Space” program.
She went through astronaut training and finished top of her class. The plan was to send her and the other women into space, but they were later denied that opportunity because of their gender.
In the decades that followed, Funk didn’t let it get her down and always kept her passion for aviation.READ MORE: Padel Players Try Out For US National Team In Dallas
She’s taught more than 3,000 people to fly.
“She has investigated many crash scenes for the government and she still knows how to analyze some of those scenes,” Williams said.
Still, all this time, one box has remained unchecked.
“She has wanted to go up in space,” Williams said. “That comes up in conversations all the time with her and you know recently she was saying if she didn’t know if she’d be able to go up or not now and I just kept telling her to believe in it.”
Now, that time has come.
On his Instagram, Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos announced Funk will be joining him, his brother and a mystery person for the 10 minute flight on his rocket “New Shepherd.”
At 82, Funk will become the oldest person ever to travel into space.
“She’s just dedicated so much of her life to the field in multiple ways, it’s wonderful,” Rev. Joy Roberson said.
“I’m so thrilled,” Lynn Pettigrew said. “I’m just so thrilled for her.”MORE NEWS: Over 250 Guns Surrendered To DeSoto Police During Saturday Event
“I cried ugly tears whenever I found out that she’s getting this opportunity,” Williams said. “Beyond just being a national, international hero to so many and to females, for her to have her dreams realized, for her to know that God sees her and sees her dreams and is making it happen, I cannot wait!”