Oldest person to go into space with Blue Origin visits Stillwater

Published: Oct. 11, 2021 at 6:40 PM CDT
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STILLWATER, Okla. (KSWO) - The oldest person ever to go into space with Blue Origin is in Stillwater this week, visiting her alma mater, Oklahoma State University.

Many consider 82-year-old Wally Funk an aviation pioneer.

At the young age of 20, she became the first female flight instructor at a military base everyone in southwest Oklahoma is familiar with.

“At Fort Sill I could do anything and everything and they all loved it what I gave them because I learned it here from the flying Aggies. They’re great,” Funk said.

Fast forward nearly 60 years later, and Funk is returning from space on a private rocket trip with Blue Origin, owned by Amazon founder Jeffrey Bezos, and making crowds laugh.

“Ah, the launch was so fantastic. You cannot believe,” Funk said. “We learned to sit in and out of our seats a lot, so I climbed up the ladder, and they didn’t think I’d make it. I said, ‘Are you kidding? I’m only 45.’”

She joined Bezos and his brother on the flight over the summer and said they were both great.

Over the years, Funk tried many times to go into space with NASA, but was denied because she didn’t have an engineering degree, but she never gave up hope that one day, she’d go into space.

“We took off and it was fantastic,” Funk said. “Now, I’ve taken off on a lot of jets, a lot of almost space stuff, and it felt just the same, but we were going straight up.”

That’s why she encouraged students there to get a degree and follow their dreams.

“When I was a little girl, two-years-old, I was told to look at the tallest mountain, which is north, with the snow on it,” Funk said. “My mother said, ‘You look at it, you don’t pray. It tells you what you’re supposed to do and that came to my heart.”

90-year-old actor William Shatner is set to go into space on the next Blue Origin trip.

The take-off scheduled for Tuesday in Texas has been delayed until Wednesday due to the weather.

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