Recently our sales manager answered a ringing phone with his normal, “Branson Zipline, This is Wes, how can I help you?”. The reply was an enthusiastic, “Good morning, Good lookin’!” As Wes assisted this perspective zipper with making her reservation he quickly realized that the woman on the other end of the line was a real spit-fire. As it turned out, this woman was none other than Wally Funk and she was headed our way via a bus tour from Texas. As Wes completed the booking process he asked her for her email address. She replyed she did not have email but directed Wes to her website, Wallyfly.com. After this unusual and intriguing conversation Wes didn’t skip a beat up pulling up this website to find out just who is Wally Funk? It quickly became obvious that this may be Wally’s first Zipline experience but would not be her first flight – Wally is a celebrity in aviation and a pioneer in the field.
Since the age of 6 Wally has been passionate about aviation. At this early age the desire to fly manifested itself with her jumping off the roof into a pile of hay while wearing her Superman Cape, hoping that if she tried enough she would eventually learn to fly. At the age of 16 her aspirations became reality, she earned her pilot’s degree while attending Stephen’s College in Columbia, Missouri and graduated with an Associate of Arts degree. She was first in her class of 24 flyers. When she was only 20 years old she was 1 of 25 women selected to participate in Mercury 13, a program designed to send women into space. The first phase of the program consisted of 87 different tests preparing for the flight into space. These tests included very rigorous tasks; from swallowing three feet of rubber hose for a stomach test, to having 18 needles stuck into her head to record brain waves, to drinking a pint of radioactive water. Phase two of the testing process required the participants to endure being submerged in tank of water for an extended period of time to simulate the weightlessness of space. Wally set the record of being in the tank for 10 hours and 35 minutes without hallucinating.
Throughout her life she has continued to soar past the competition, being the first woman asked to undergo High Altitude Chamber Test and Martin Baker Ejection Test, the first woman to successfully complete FAA General Aviation Operations Academy course, the first woman to hold position of FAA SWAP (Systems Worthiness Analysis program) specialist, and the first female Air Safety Investigator with the National Transporter Safety Board. She has won a plethora of aviation awards, been featured in a countless amount of magazine articles and books on aviation, interviewed both on tv and radio, and held many different jobs in the field of aviation.
We couldn’t be more excited to have Wally, a living legend and role model for women worldwide, experience Branson Zipline. This coming Tuesday Wally will join us for our premier Tour, the Ozarks Xplorer Canopy Tour. We can’t wait to meet this remarkable woman in person!