Geraldine Lois Fredritz
November 22, 1925
Newark, Ohio, U.S.
|Died||September 30, 2014 (aged 88)|
Quincy, Florida, U.S.
|Children||Valerie Armentrout, Gary Mock, Roger Mock|
Geraldine "Jerrie" Fredritz Mock (November 22, 1925 – September 30, 2014) was an American pilot and the first woman to fly solo around the world, which she did in 1964. She flew a single engine Cessna 180 (registered N1538C) christened the "Spirit of Columbus" and nicknamed "Charlie." The trip began March 19, 1964, in Columbus, Ohio, and ended April 17, 1964, in Columbus, Ohio, and took 29 days, 21 stopovers and almost 22,860 miles (36,790 km). An almost forgotten part of this flight is the "race" that developed between Jerrie Mock and Joan Merriam Smith who had flown from a field near San Francisco CA on March 17, 1964. Joan's departure date and flight path was the same as the aviator Amelia Earhart's last flight and though not in direct competition with each other, media coverage soon began tracking the progress of each pilot fascinated with who would complete the journey first; Mock did. The story of this race is told in a book written by Taylor Phillips entitled, Racing to Greet the Sun, Jerrie Mock and Joan Merriam Smith Duel to Become the First Woman to Solo Around the World (2015). Jerrie Mock was subsequently awarded the Louis Blériot medal from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale in 1965. In 1970 she published the story of her round-the-world flight in the book Three-Eight Charlie. While that book is now out of print, a 50th anniversary edition was later published including maps, weather charts and photos. Three-Eight Charlie is a reference to the call sign, N1538C, of the Cessna 180 Skywagon Mock used to fly around the world. Before her death, Mock, mother of three children, resided in Quincy, Florida; northwest of the state capital, Tallahassee.
Geraldine "Jerrie" Fredritz Mock was born November 22, 1925, in Newark, Ohio to Timothy and Blanche (Wright) Fredritz. Her paternal grandparents were German emigrants. During her childhood, she found that she had more in common with the boys. Her interest for flying was sparked when she was 7 years old when she and her father had the opportunity to fly in the cockpit of a Ford Trimotor airplane. In high school, she took an engineering course of which she was the only girl and decided flying was her passion. She graduated from Newark High School in 1943 and went on to attend Ohio State University. At OSU, she became a member of Phi Mu. She would leave her studies at OSU behind to wed her husband, Russell Mock in 1945.
During her flight, Mock traveled over Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and Vietnam, among other countries. After stressful days traveling over the Atlantic, Mock was greeted by the president of the Aero Club of Morocco and stayed the night in a French home, where Mock reports, "there were no nightmares of thunderheads over the Atlantic. Dressed in red satin, I danced in marble palaces." Mock later journeyed to Saudi Arabia, where she landed at Dhahran Airport. In her book Three-Eight Charlie, Mock says that after landing in Saudi Arabia the crowd of men around her looked puzzled. One of the men approached her aircraft. “His white-kaffiyeh-covered head nodded vehemently, and he shouted to the throng that there was no man. This brought a rousing ovation”, she recalled. Mock was quite a spectacle in Saudi Arabia where women would not be allowed to drive cars until 2017, much less fly a plane. Traveling the world gave Mock new perspective and experiences. Flying over Vietnam, she noted: "Somewhere not far away a war was being fought, but from the sky above, all looked peaceful."
(Sanctioned and accepted by the National Aeronautic Association and the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale)
A life-size bronze sculpture of Mock, sculpted by Renate Burgyan Fackler, was unveiled in the courtyard of The Works museum in Newark, Ohio on September 14, 2013. Mock's younger sister, Susan Reid, modeled for the statue while wearing Mock's knit skirt, sweater, and leather shoes that she had worn on her round-the-world flight. According to Wendy Hollinger, the publisher who reissued Mock's book about her flight, Mock did not especially like skirts, but "was in a skirt because she thought it would be socially acceptable, especially in the Middle East."
Mock’s Cessna 180 which she flew around the world, “The Spirit of Columbus,” hangs in the Udvar-Hazy Center of the National Air and Space Museum in Virginia. In June 2007, Mock flew to Chantilly, Virginia, to see “The Spirit of Columbus” for the first time in many years. Mock "was so pleased to see her plane 'airborne' again". The plane previously was in storage, but with the opening of the Udvar-Hazy Center, is now back on display.
The United States Air Force named a street in honor of Mock at Rickenbacker AFB (presently Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base and Rickenbacker International Airport) in Lockbourne, Ohio (near Columbus).
A plaque bearing Mock's accomplishments can be found in the Tallahassee Regional Airport's Aviation Wall of Fame in Tallahassee, Florida.
Mock was found dead in her home in Quincy, Florida by a relative on September 30, 2014.