Ready for a quiz? I know, this blog post just started, and already I’m quizzing you. But this won’t take long. Here goes:
1) What was Amelia Earhart attempting to do when she and her plane went missing over the Pacific Ocean?
Of course, you answered that quickly. She was trying to become the first women to fly around the world.
2) Who was the first women to fly solo around the world?
If you came up with the name Jerrie Mock, chances are you either live in central Ohio or you Googled the question before answering.
Today I’m thrilled to have author Nancy Roe Pimm with us. Nancy’s middle-grade biography of aviator Jerrie Mock, titled The Jerrie Mock Story: The First Woman to Fly Solo around the World, released on Tuesday, March 15th. To find out more about this remarkable woman, let’s chat with Nancy. And, I promise, there will be no quiz at the end.
Tell us a little bit about Jerrie Mock, who she was, and how she became interested in flying.
When Jerrie was only seven years old, her parents took her to a fair where she took her first airplane ride. She loved it so much, she told her father afterward that she wanted to be a pilot when she grew up. In school, she saw pictures of exotic places around the world, and she was fascinated by other cultures. She aspired to combine her love of flying with her desire to see the world. After high school, she became the only female student studying aeronautical engineering at The Ohio State University. She did well in college, but in the 1940’s, there was a lot of pressure on young women to marry and raise a family. When her high school sweetheart proposed, she left college began the life others expected her to live.
As a woman aviator in the 1960’s, what challenges did Jerrie face?
When her children were a little older, Jerrie did go to flight school and eventually got her pilot’s license. At the time, women in the cockpit were not the norm. She tried to maintain her femininity for public perception, wearing skirts and heels for photographs. She entered flying races called air derbies and became known as “The Flying Housewife,” a moniker she very much disliked. Even though she was an airplane mechanic and pilot, her male colleagues expected her to get them coffee.
Jerrie and Amelia lived in different time periods. Do you feel Amelia paved the way for Jerrie to fly around the world? Why do you think it took so long for a female pilot to successfully complete the journey Amelia set out on?
Amelia Earhart was Jerrie’s hero. Jerrie was in middle school in 1937, a 12-year-old fan of the woman who was attempting to fly around the world. She’d race home from school every day for the radio update on Earhart’s journey. In the early 1960s, Jerrie was surprised to learn that no woman had flown solo around the world. I don’t know why it took so long for another female pilot to do it. Maybe it was because of the way Amelia’s journey ended in tragedy.
What do you hope middle-grade readers find when they read The Jerrie Mock Story: The First Woman to Fly Solo around the World?
I hope they find inspiration. Jerrie was an ordinary person who did extraordinary things. You have to have a dream. Dreams can’t come true unless you have a dream. Jerrie also lived in a time when women had little power, but Jerrie very humbly did what she knew she could. The book shows how much womens’ roles in society have changed. Jerrie’s story has so much – history, culture, geography, science. I learned so much writing the book. I know readers will learn a lot reading it, too.
Finally, tell us a little about Nancy Roe Pimm. Have you ever flown an airplane?
I’ve flown an Ultralight, which is like a motorized glider. I was with Mario Andretti (my husband used to drive race cars and we became friends with the Andrettis) and Mario told me to take over the controls just above the tree tops. I was terrified, but it was exhilarating!
I grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and I always dreamed of living on a horse farm. I married a farmer who turned race car driver. He drove in the Indy 500 and the Daytona 500. He followed his dreams and encouraged me to follow my own dreams of writing. The Jerrie Mock Story is my fifth book for young readers.
Thanks so much to Nancy for taking time to stop by The Mixed-Up Files of Middle-Grade Authors. You can find Nancy at www.nancyroepimm.com and on Twitter as @nancyroepimm.
Mixed-Up Files blogger Michelle Houts has written four books for middle-grade readers, including Kammie on First: Baseball’s Dottie Kamenshek, which is part of the same series as Nancy Roe Pimm’s The Jerrie Mock Story. Both books are part of the Biographies for Young Readers Series from Ohio University Press.