Geraldine "Jerrie" Mock, the first woman to fly solo around the world, died Tuesday of natural causes at her home in Quincy, Florida. She was 88.
Mock took her first flight at age 7, and studied aeronautical engineering at Ohio State University. She left in 1945 to marry a pilot named Russell Mock, but earned her pilot's license in 1958 and became a co-owner of a single-engine Cessna 180.
Being a female pilot was tough, she told The Associated Press, but "nobody was going to tell me I couldn't do it because I was a woman." Her childhood hero had been Amelia Earhart, and when she found out no other woman had flown around the globe on her own, "I was rather disgusted that women were so backward," she said.
She started planning for her flight in 1962, making modifications to her Cessna by adding three extra fuel tanks, special radios, and an autopilot system. She took off in March 1964, and over the course of her 23,000-mile journey had ice on the wings, burning wires in the cockpit, and accidentally landed on a military base in Egypt. She arrived back in Columbus, Ohio, on April 17 to thousands of cheering fans, and was invited to the White House to meet with President Lyndon B. Johnson. She eventually quit flying due to the high cost, but said she never gave up her passion for aviation.