First Woman Aircraft Accident Investigator
Wally Funk has been flying more than 40 years. She has accumulated more than 14,700 hours of flight time and earned numerous ratings including her commercial, multi-engine, instrument, and flight instructor ratings. Wally is a down-to-earth woman whose eyes light up and sparkle when she talks aviation, whether she is speaking with school children or being interviewed by the national media. Her love of flying began at age 5.
At age 20, Wally‚s first job instructing students was at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, as a civilian flight instructor. To date she has soloed more than 700 students. Her prize-winning pupil is LouAnne Gibson who went from “0” time to CFI in eight months! Wally instructed LouAnne for her private, commercial, instrument and flight instructor ratings and within a very few years, LouAnne had graduated from instructor pilot to first officer with a major airline, and has been with the airline for more than 10 years.
In February 1961, at the age of 21, Wally volunteered for the “Women-in-Space” program, for future female astronauts sponsored by the Lovelace Clinic. Wally underwent a series of rigorous physical and mental tests and passed with a very high average, rating second in the field of 13 qualifying candidates.
It was on December 9, 1974, Wally accepted the job of air safety investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in Washington, D.C. She was their first woman investigator. Out of concern for air safety, Wally developed her “Wally Funk Safety‰ slide presentation, which describes the functions of the NTSB and how to prevent accidents. She continues to make presentations even today.
Wally Funk’s numerous activities and accomplishments during the past quarter-century are impressive. She has been waiting since 1961 to travel into outer space and recently has been working with a a private firm out of Seattle. On Feb 4, 2002, Wally will finally be aboard a space cruiser and the aircraft will make one orbit. Wally Funk‚s dream is about to come true!