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Wally Funk's Race for Space reviewed in the Daily Mail

on Tue, 10/02/2018 - 14:00

This was the fateful telegram of September 1961, sent to the female astronaut candidates of the Mercury 13 women in space programme: ‘Regret to advise arrangements at Pensacola cancelled probably will not be possible to carry out this part of program.’ Signed: ‘W. Randolph Lovelace II, MD.’

The funding had been pulled from a visionary, privately funded programme which aimed to beat the Russians to sending the first woman into space.

The 13 candidates, who had passed all the rigorous physical and psychological tests up to that moment, were left reeling from the shock and disappointment. It was all over.

One of those women was Wally Funk. Yes, that’s her real name: Mary Wallace (‘Wally’) Funk, born 1939, daughter of Mr and Mrs Funk, who ran a five-and-dime store in Taos, New Mexico.

If you read this extraordinary, quirky book, you’ll get to know Wally: one of the brashest, loudest, most unselfconscious women I’ve ever come across in non-fiction. Now aged almost 80 and as physically fit as ever, she is still, 57 years after the arrival of that telegram, hoping to fly to space.

Earth does indeed seem too constricted for this Texas-based female force of nature. She drives around this plain old planet in her camper van, using her knee to control the steering wheel and refusing to wear a seat belt, and has kept herself occupied as a pilot and an air-accident investigator, taking part in air-races to avert boredom. She still has her eye, though, on the off-planet prize.

Read full review here

Wally Funk's Race for Space: The Extraordinary Story of a Female Aviation Pioneer
Sue Nelson
The Westbourne Press
ISBN 9781908906342
Hardback, £14.99

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