Lori Wyer’s WS320 Blog

Jerrie Now

Jerrie Cobb in the Amazon         After the failed hearings, Jerrie continued with her crusade with a vengeance.  She sent letters to President Kennedy, Vice President Johnson, and anyone else that she could possibly think of.  She spoke out on behalf of the women-in-space program to anyone that would listen.  But still, no one would listen.  No one was interested in her cause. 

And then it happened, just as Jerrie had predicted. On June 16, 1963 the Soviets accomplished Jerrie’s dream.  They launched Vostok 6, with female cosmonaut Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova (Nolen, pg 259).  While Jerrie was excited that a woman was able to accomplish the mission, she was extremely disappointed that it hadn’t been her.  For all intents and purposes, Jerrie Cobb was far more qualified for the job than was her Soviet rival.  But in the end, her qualifications didn’t matter.

In late 1964 Jerrie moved to Florida and decided to become an aviation consultant.  She flew all over the world, but was particularly drawn to the Amazon.  On a mission to Peru, Jerrie became particularly interested in a group of missionary linguists, the Wycliffe Bible translators (Nolen, pg 271).  She became intent on moving to South America and using her flying capabilities to help the people in the jungle.  At the age of thirty-two, she did just that.  Her father helped her buy a plane, and off she went!  Many will say that is the year that Jerrie Cobb ran away from her heartbreaking disappointment.

Over the years, fueled by her faith and her love of flying, Jerrie continued to live in Amazonas, an area of the jungle which includes parts of Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Bolivia and Peru (Nolen, pg 325).  Her life is filled with doing missionary work and delivering supplies, food and medicines to the people of that area.

Oddly, though, her letters home raised questions about her actual experiences in the jungle.  She made claims of discovering unknown tribes, saving babies from infanticide, and introducing a new form of a “winged bean” that would help the malnourished Indians fend for themselves.  When a reporter from The Miami Herald went to see Jerrie in the jungle in 1983, she saw no evidence of those claims.  There were no unknown tribes, no saved babies and no winged bean.  She saw Jerrie delivering Coca Cola and lumber (Nolen, pg 327). 

So how do we explain these inconsistencies?  The reporter explained, “Jerrie was dealing with a public which looks for superheroes in ordinary humans, as I did in my search for a jungle queen.  I demanded one, and Jerrie did her best to oblige.”  Others that knew her well think that she never got over not getting the chance to fly in space and this is her way of making sense of her life.

But, for a brief moment in time, it looked as if Jerrie might get another chance in space.  In 1998, NASA announced that they would be sending seventy-seven year old Astronaut John Glenn (a member of the Mercury 7) up into space for a geriatric study.  At the age of sixty-seven, Jerrie hoped she might have another chance.  Friends started a campaign that eventually enlisted the support of the National Organization for Women (NOW) to give Jerrie another chance.  Unfortunately, this effort was as futile as the one in the 60s:  Jerrie Cobb would never go up into space.

Jerrie now

The Early Years

Jerrie the Astronaut

What Happened to the Women-in-Space Program?

Awards and Honors


Technology at the Time

Jerrie Now




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