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Oldest person to go to space has Oklahoma ties

Jeff Bezos Blue Origin
Posted at 8:16 AM, Jul 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-20 11:53:36-04

TULSA, Okla. — Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world and former CEO of Amazon, launched into space in a rocket built by his space exploration company, Blue Origin.

One of the three people with him made history, and she has ties to Oklahoma.

Mary Wallace "Wally" Funk is the oldest person to ever go to space. She attended Oklahoma State University where she earned her degree, as well as most of her aviation ratings and certifications. After becoming a professional aviator, Funk's first job was at Fort Sill, Okla., in 1959 at just 20 years old. She was the first female flight instructor at a US military base at the time.

READ MORE: Jeff Bezos launches into space in landmark flight for his space tourism company, Blue Origin

Later in 1971, Funk earned the rating of flight inspector from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and became the first woman to complete the FAA's General Aviation Operations Inspector Academy course. This included pilot certification, handling accidents and violations, and flight testing procedures. Funk later made history again in 1974 when she was hired by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) as its first female Air Safety Investigator.

Over the years she turned her focus is now on education as she teaches students how to fly planes as a chief pilot. It's estimated she's taught over 700 students in her time as an instructor.

Funk, along with the Bezos brothers, and Blue Origin's first space tourism customer, Oliver Daeman, lifted off in West Texas from a Blue Origin launch pad around 8 a.m. local time.

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