#BookReview WALLY FUNK’S RACE FOR SPACE by SUE NELSON #20BooksOfSummer20 #nonfiction #WallyFunk


In 1961, Wally Funk was among the Mercury 13, the first group of American pilots to pass the Woman in Space programme. Wally sailed through a series of rigorous physical and mental tests, with one of her scores beating all the male Mercury 7 astronauts’, including John Glenn’s, the first American in orbit.

But just one week before the final phase of training, the programme was abruptly cancelled. A combination of politics and prejudice meant that none of the women ever flew into space. Undeterred, Wally went on to become America’s first female aviation safety inspector, though her dream of being an astronaut never dimmed.

In this offbeat odyssey, journalist and fellow space buff Sue Nelson joins Wally, now approaching her eightieth birthday, as she races to make her own giant leap, before it’s too late. Covering their travels across the United States and Europe – taking in NASA’s mission control in Houston, the European Space Agency’s HQ in Paris and Spaceport America in New Mexico, where Wally’s ride into space awaits – this is a uniquely intimate and entertaining portrait of a true aviation trailblazer.



This was book 6 of my 20 Books of Summer 2020.

What a blooming amazing woman Wally Funk is!! Even at the age of 80 she’s fighting hard to achieve her dream of going into Space. And in this book we get to hear all about her amazing career and the astonishingly poor treatment that women were receiving in the 1960’s, especially in the world of the US space race when a group of 13 female pilots were put through the rigorous, and brutal, testing process as part of Mercury 13 only to have the funding cut just before the mission. No reason was ever given, and this was such a huge blow to Wally and the other women.

What also comes across throughout this book is the touching friendship between the author, Sue Nelson, and Wally as they travel together visiting a variety of places connecting to the world of Space. They often drive each other nuts, but for the most part they are inspired and enthused by one another and share such a lovely bond as they discover new aspects to the history and the future of Space travel.

This book is so illuminating into the derisive attitudes shown towards the women in the 1960’s and onwards, and even when Wally outshines her male rivals at some of the tests, there are still doubts as to whether women should even be trying out for a place on the next space shuttle. Through this book we get to hear about the amazing achievements she accomplished through her life and even at 80 she’s hungry for more! She’s even bought herself a ticket to be a space tourist on the Virgin Galactic Space which is hoping to be the first commercial space flight – if it ever goes ahead!

Wally is a formidable woman with such an inspiring tale to tell and I’m very grateful for Sue Nelson for sharing it with us. She’s the kind of woman we should be teaching all young girls to look up to and aspire to be. Her energy and determination to prove people wrong is infectious and I just loved spending time in the company of her thanks to this book! I just hope she gets to achieve her dream!!



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