Thousands turn out to honor aerospace trailblazer and Grapevine native Wally Funk


GRAPEVINE, Texas — Thousands lined up Saturday, August 7, to honor hometown hero Wally Funk during a parade down Historic Main Street and a presentation on Peace Plaza at Grapevine Main Station.

82-year-old Funk was honored for her pioneering ride on Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin New Shepard suborbital space tourism rocket.

Young and old alike were present holding signs that read “Fly, Wally, Fly” and other words of support for Funk. Along the half mile stretch from the top end of Main Street to Peace Plaza at Grapevine Main Station, crowds lined the sidewalks and rushed up to the vintage Cadillac Funk rode in as she passed by offering praise and support.

Upon arriving at Peace Plaza, hundreds more waited in anticipation of the continued celebration.

The parade included the members of National Space Society of North Texas; Frontier Brigade Band; Wally Funk; Mayor William D. Tate; Members of the 501st Star Garrison North Texas Squad in full Star Wars costume; City Councilmembers Sharron Rogers, Leon Leal and Duff O’Dell; Blue Origin Vice President of New Shepard Mission and Flight Operations, Audrey Powers; and Head of the New Shepard Program, Steve Bennett.

During the presentation on Peace Plaza, representatives from Blue Origin and others spoke about Funk.

Mayor William D. Tate presented a personal message of appreciation and a proclamation from the City of Grapevine announcing August 7, 2021, as Wally Funk Day.

Funk addressed the crowd and spoke from the heart as she shared her appreciation for the overwhelming support from friends and her hometown community.

An ice cream social was held following the presentation and commemorative replica lapel pins like the one Funk wore into space and Astronaut Ice Cream, donated by Space Center Houston, were handed out to attendees.

On July 20, 2021, Funk made history by being the oldest person at 82-years-old to rocket into space.

She has been a pioneer in aerospace and a trailblazer for women in aviation and space flight since 1960. Funk’s first job after graduating from Oklahoma State University was as a flying instructor at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

She was the first female flight inspector for the Federal Aviation Administration, and later became the first female air safety inspector with the National Transportation Safety Board.

Additionally, she has been the chief pilot for several aviation schools across the country and has taught more than 3,000 pilots how to fly.

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