19 March–17 April 1964: Geraldine Fredritz (“Jerrie”) Mock landed her 1953 Cessna 180, Spirit of Columbus, N1538C, at Columbus, Ohio, completing a circumnavigation of the Earth she had begun at 9:31 a.m., 19 March 1964. Mock was the first woman to complete a circumnavigation by air. Her journey covered 23,103 miles (36,964 kilometers). The total elapsed time was 29 days, 11 hours, 59 minutes. The flight set a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Record for Speed Around the World, Eastbound, of 52.75 kilometers per hour (32.78 miles per hour).¹
Jerrie Mock held twenty-two FAI world records, set between 1964 and 1969.
Cessna 180 serial number 30238 was built by the Cessna Aircraft Company, Inc., Wichita, Kansas, in 1953, and registered N1538C, the first year of production for the model. It was the 238th of 640 Model 180s that were built during the first year of production. 6,193 were built by the time production came to an end in 1986. N1538C was purchased for Jerrie Mock in 1963, with a total of 990 hours on the engine and airframe. The passenger seats were removed and replaced with additional fuel tanks. Additional radios and instruments were installed.
The Cessna Model 180 is an all-metal, four-place, single-engine, high-wing monoplane with fixed landing gear. It is 26 feet, 2 inches (7.976 meters) long with a wingspan of 36 feet (10.973 meters) and height of 7 feet, 9 inches (2.362 meters). N1538C has an empty weight of 1,480 pounds (671.3 kilograms) and gross weight of 2,550 pounds (1,156.6 kilograms).
Spirit of Columbus is powered by an air-cooled, normally-aspirated 471.239-cubic-inch-displacement (7.722 liter) Continental O-470-A horizontally-opposed six-cylinder overhead valve (OHV) direct-drive engine with a compression ratio of 7:1. This engine is rated at 225 horsepower at 2,600 r.p.m., burning 80/87 aviation gasoline, and turns a two-bladed constant speed propeller.
The airplane has a maximum cruising speed of 160 miles per hour (257 kilometers per hour). Its service ceiling is 21,200 feet (6,462 meters).
After her around the world flight, Jerrie Mock never flew Spirit of Columbus again. Cessna exchanged it for a new six-place P206 Super Skylane, N155JM. For many years N1538C was hanging over a production line at the Cessna factory. Today, Mock’s Cessna 180 is on display at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum.
On 4 May 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson presented Jerrie Mock with the Federal Aviation Agency Gold Medal for Distinguished Service, and the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale awarded her its Louis Blériot Silver Medal.
Geraldine Fredritz Mock died Monday, 30 September 2014, at the age of 88 years.
¹ FAI Record File Number 3526
© 2017, Bryan R. Swopesby