Wally Funk was among the Mercury 13, the first group of American pilots to complete NASA’s 1961 Women in Space program. Funk breezed through the rigorous physical and mental tests, her scores beating those of many of the male candidates—even John Glenn. Just one week before Funk was to enter the final phase of training, the entire program was abruptly cancelled. Politics and prejudice meant that none of the more-than-qualified women ever went to space. Undeterred, Funk went on to become one of America’s first female aviation inspectors and civilian flight instructors, though her dream of being an astronaut never dimmed.
In this offbeat odyssey, journalist and fellow space buff Sue Nelson travels with Wally Funk, approaching her 80th birthday, as she races to make her giant leap. Covering their travels across the United States and Europe—taking in NASA’s mission control in Houston and Spaceport America in New Mexico, where Funk’s ride to space awaits—this is a uniquely intimate and entertaining portrait of a true aviation trailblazer.