Meet the OSU alum who is going into space with Jeff Bezos

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP/The Oklahoman) — An 82-year-old pilot who was not allowed to go to space because she’s a woman is making her alma mater proud.

Earlier this month, Jeff Bezos announced that he has chosen Wally Funk to be aboard the July 20 launch from West Texas.

Officials say Funk will fly in the New Shepard rocket for the 10-minute hop as an ‘honored guest.’

Funk is among the so-called Mercury 13 women who went through astronaut training in the 1960s, but never made it to space — or even NASA’s astronaut corps — because they were female. Back then, all of the NASA astronauts were military test pilots and male.

At age 82, Funk will become the oldest person to launch into space. She’ll beat the late John Glenn, who set a record at age 77 when flying aboard space shuttle Discovery in 1998.

In this 1995 file photo, members of the FLATs, also known as the “Mercury 13,” gather for a photo as they attend a shuttle launch in Florida. From left are Gene Nora Jessen, Wally Funk, Jerrie Cobb, Jerri Truhill, Sarah Rutley, Myrtle Cagle and Bernice Steadman. They were the invited guests of space shuttle pilot Eileen Collins, the first female shuttle pilot and later the first female shuttle commander. Cobb, NASA’s first female astronaut candidate, died in Florida at the age of 88 on March 18, 2019. (NASA via AP)

“No one has waited longer,” Bezos said via Instagram. “It’s time. Welcome to the crew, Wally. We’re excited to have you fly with us on July 20th as our honored guest.”

Funk, a pilot and former flight instructor, was the first female inspector for the Federal Aviation Administration and the first female air safety investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board.

According to the Oklahoman, she graduated from Oklahoma State University before joining Mercury 13. She says she first noticed OSU because of the Flying Aggies flight team, adding that they didn’t discriminate against women.

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