Wally Funk has been flying professionally since 1957 and she has accumulated over 19,600 hours of flying time.
As a child, she was interested in mechanics and built model airplanes and ships. At the age of 14 Wally became an expert marksman, receiving the Distinguished Rifleman's Award. At the same time she represented the southwestern United States as Top Female Skier, Slalom and Downhill races in United States competition.
At age 16 she entered Stephen's College in Columbia, Missouri. She graduated in 1958 with an Associate of Arts degree and rated first in her class of 24 flyers. In 1964 her work in aviation was recognized when she became the youngest woman in the history of the college to receive the Alumna Achievement Award.
She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Education and earned her Commercial, Single-engine Land, Multi-engine Land, Single-engine Sea, Instrument, Flight lnstructor's and all Ground Instructor's ratings at Oklahoma State University. While attending OSU Wally was elected as an officer of the famous "Flying Aggies" and flew for them in the International Collegiate Air Meets. She received the "Outstanding Female Pilot" trophy, the "Flying Aggie Top Pilot" and the "Alfred Alder Memorial Trophy" two years in succession.
Her first job at age 20 was at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, as a Civilian Flight Instructor of noncommissioned and commissioned officers of the United States Army. To date, as a professional Flight Instructor she has soloed more than 700 students and put through thousands of Private, Commercial, Multi-engine, Seaplane, Glider, Instrument, CFI, Al and Air Transport Pilots.
In February 1961, at the age of 21 Wally volunteered for the "Women in Space" Program with an independent clinic which had the support but not the official sponsorship of NASA. Only twenty-five women were chosen for testing. Wally underwent a series of rigorous physical and mental tests and passed with a very high average, rating 3rd in the field of 13 qualifying candidates - (read all about it). It was at that time that Wally became fully absorbed with the idea of becoming an astronaut and traveling into space.
Wally has since flown the C.S.T. Apollo Static Space Simulator at Edward's Air Force Base Flight Test Center. In the fall of 1961, Wally accepted a job as a Certified Flight Instructor, Charter, and Chief Pilot with an aviation company in Hawthorne, California.
In recognition of her outstanding ability, accomplishments and service to her community, country and profession, Wally was selected as one of the "Outstanding Young Women in America" in 1965. Later, she was listed in "Who's Who in Young Women in America" and "Who's Who in Aviation".
She has received the FAA Gold Seal as a Flight Instructor and became the 58th woman in the United States to receive the Airline Transport Rating.
In 1970, she received the Commercial Glider Rating and taught five Aeronautical Science classes at Redondo High School in California. She was recognized by Sacramento's Educational Board for giving high school students a head start and interest in aviation.
Wally was a goodwill flying ambassador on an extensive 3-year tour entailing fifty countries and covering some 80,000 miles in Europe and the Mid-East, including the circumscribing of Africa. While touring Russia, an attempt was made to meet Valentia Tereschkova in Moscow. The Russian government decided that this meeting might not be a good idea, due to competition in space flight programs at the time. However, she and Wally did have the opportunity to meet some years later at another event.
In 1971 she was the first woman to successfully complete the FAA General Aviation Operations Inspector Academy course, which includes Pilot Certification and Flight Testing procedures, handling accidents and violations. This exposure has led to an interest in other aspects of flying, namely: parachute jumping, ballooning and hang-gliding. 1, 2, 3