VAN HORN, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – North Texas native and aviation pioneer Wally Funk and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos are getting ready to make history with a flight to space this week.
Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket launches on Tuesday from the deserts of West Texas. CBS 11 News headed to the small town of Van Horn, near the launch site, to capture the event.
Although Bezos is the headliner of the launch, the story of Wally Funk, 82, and how she got to this moment is one to be remembered.
It was an Instagram moment seen by millions. The moment the North Texan found out she’s going to space.
When Bezos walked into Funk’s life, she said she had no clue who he was. They met for the first time when he knocked on her door.
Bezos also opened a door that had been shut for six decades, with the dreams of the aviation pioneer sitting on the other side.
Funk and 12 other women completed the very same testing as the men in the Mercury space program in the 1960s. Of the Mercury 13, as they became known, Funk was the only one who did better than all the rest, including the men.
She went on to become the Federal Aviation Administration’s first-ever female inspector and has taught over 3,000 pilots to fly. She also holds every pilot rating the FAA offers.
At her home in Grapevine, memories fill almost every room, pictures of the young girl whose mother told her to always dream big.
Funk’s pastors and parishioners at White’s Chapel church in Southlake sent her off with hugs.
Through a lifetime of always reaching higher, she now looks forward to the ever-important countdown to launch on Tuesday.