Celebrating Jerrie Mock and 'Charlie': 50th anniversary of her 1964 epic solo world flight

11:33 PM

The front page of Jerrie's hometown newspaper on March 19, 1964 began a daily barrage of local coverage that kept America cheering for Bexley, Ohio's "Flying Housewife" as she was often called by the media. However, Jerrie hated that nickname. As far as she was concerned, she was just a pilot who really just wanted to see the world in her 1953 Cessna 180 Skywagon, N1538C or...just Charlie.
By Dan Pimentel,
Airplanista Blog Editor

Fifty years ago today, a diminutive 38-year-old mother of three departed Port Columbus Airport and pointed the bright red nose of her 180 Skywagon eastbound for Bermuda. It would be the start of an historic world-record flight that earned her the recognition of making the "first solo flight around the world by a woman."

Jerrie's 1970 book Three-Eight Charlie describing this epic journey is one that every aviator and aviation enthusiast should read. It is a very rare commodity, found only in the collections of aviation history buffs, a few libraries, and online for quite impressive (read spendy) prices. If you cannot find her original book, a reprint is available here, and it is word-for-word just like the original, only very well-illustrated.

My involvement following this story goes back to 2000, and I have written in AOPA Pilot Magazine about how aviation history as forgotten Jerrie and her flight. Go read that article to get up to speed, and in particular, read the "sidebar at the very end.

In the coming days, throughout the time Jerrie was making her world flight, I will be posting some detailed images I shot at a private photo shoot conducted at the National Air and Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center in Virgina before N1538C was hung from the rafters. I gained access to "Charlie" to do research for a screenplay I wrote on the flight that never caught Hollywood's attention. That is sad too, because the more you learn about this flight and this story, I'm sure you'll agree her historic accomplishment would make a seriously exciting feature film.

Starting Thursday, March 20, I will post links here to a gallery with this series of detail images. I assume most will be never-before-seen...and you will discover Charlie was taken from Jerrie the minute she landed to complete her flight, and to this day, he hangs at the NASM exactly as if she made the flight yesterday. You'll see Jerrie's typed notes to herself, still taped precisely where she left them on April 17th when she returned to Ohio to become Aviation's Forgotten Pioneer.

So bookmark Airplanista.com or better yet, subscribe in the upper right corner, and take a look inside Charlie as if it were 1964 all over again. Releasing these images to view is my way of honoring the most famous Cessna on the planet. Because while Jerrie certainly deserves to be honored, my quest has always been about Charlie. She got the credit but he never let her down, through wind, ice, storms, and long, LONG stretches over open ocean.

If there ever was a general aviation success story, this is it. The fact that 999.999 out 1,000 people down at the mall have never heard of Jerrie, Charlie or her historic flight is aviation history's biggest malfunction. She should be as famous as Lindbergh or Earhart, and maybe during this 50th anniversary celebration, I pray the mainstream media picks this story up and runs with it, so the both of them - a tenacious "aviatrix" and a very sturdy airplane - FINALLY get the national recognition they BOTH deserve.

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