Starkle Dream Up. Stephens College
« Back to Sc-Scene Archive

Stephens alumna to be featured on PBS 'Makers'

October 6, 2014

A Stephens College alumna is scheduled to be featured on an upcoming episode of PBS’s “Makers: Women Who Make America” documentary series.

Wally Funk—a pilot, member of the Mercury 13 and future space traveler—will be interviewed on “Women in Space” airing on Oct. 14. The series began Sept. 30 and concludes Nov. 4 with an episode on “Women in War.”

“I’m really excited about that one,” Funk said. “Several women I trained are in Afghanistan now.”

Funk is also scheduled to be among a panel of speakers at The New Yorker Festival this month. She will join Bas Lansdorp, co-founder of an organization that aims to colonize Mars; Bill Stone; whose company is attempting to commercialize human space exploration; and Burkhard Bilger, a writer for The New Yorker. “Fly Me to the Moon: Personal Space Travel” will be held on Oct. 12.

Last month, Funk presented at the Acadia Night Sky Festival in Bay Harbor, taking a group flying over the Acadia Forest.

It’s a grueling schedule but nothing new for Funk who has given nearly 20 public speeches this year, including being part of Wally Funk Day at Lockheed Martin, which makes the F-35.

She’s also waiting to be among the first to take advantage of commercial space travel.

“It will happen,” Funk said. “If I don’t go with Richard (Branson, owner of Virgin Galactic), I’m trying to get somebody who will sponsor me for the SpaceX trip to the International Space Station in 2017.”

Funk was a member of the “Flying Susies” at Stephens, where she earned her pilot’s license. In 1961, she volunteered for the “Women in Space” program and became one of the Mercury 13, a group of women NASA initially pegged for space travel. Although Funk and her peers scored as well on the tests as their male counterparts (Funk even beat John Glenn’s scores), the program was grounded before they had a chance to fly.

Funk went on to become the first woman to successfully complete the FAA General Aviation Operations Inspector Academy course, the first woman promoted to specialist in the FAA Systems Worthiness Analysis Program, and the first female to serve as air safety investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board in Washington, D.C.

Most computers will open PDF documents automatically, but you may need to download Adobe Reader.