Chief Pilot Cobb
Such was the beginning of the flying experiences of the young woman who just lately has been shocked by electric needles and had ice water poured in her ears in preparation for a visit to space. She eventually became chief pilot for the South American operations of Fleetway. Once there was a forced landing on a narrow Colombian beach between the ocean and the Andes; there were several untimely weather close-ins over the jungles and an obituary in a West Indies newspaper when a T-6G, supposedly with Jerrie in it, crashed in the Caribbean. She also put in a couple of years as chief pilot for Executive Aircraft in Kansas City. In May 1957, in the Aero Commander plane which was to make her famous, she set the world nonstop long-distance record (1,504.74 miles) for planes of the twin-engine weight class, flying from Guatemala City to Oklahoma City. That same year, in the Aero Commander, she established a new world class altitude record, 30,361 feet, and in April 1959 a new world class mark for speed, 226.148 mph. This spring, now manager of advertising and sales promotion for Aero Design & Engineering Inc., she took one of the planes on a demonstration tour from Oklahoma City to Africa, flying 13,170 miles and finally selling the plane in Tanganyika.
Socially, this heroic creature resembles nothing so much as a sorority alumna who has lost her way to the annual reunion. She is a thoughtful girl who reads a lot, especially poetry, and loves all music except rock 'n' roll. At home she likes to wear old shorts, and she likes to go fishing with her dachshund as a companion. She'll stand still for a social evening, and there is always a hopeful gentleman for the occasion, but with spaceflight tests and all, Jerrie seems to have little time for romance. She is religious, goes to church every Sunday, and at every meal, public or otherwise, bows her head and privately asks a blessing.
She is an enthusiast for native American Indian cooking. Gourmets often assert that American Indian cookery really involved nothing more than boiling the red man's moccasins, but Jerrie says this is not so. She delights in producing amazing and authentic Chickasaw Indian dishes, vanishing for hours into the kitchen and emerging in a smoke-signal cloud of steam to serve beef, beans, corn and squaw bread, with a water-lily-root salad. The salad ingredients can only be obtained by selecting the roots with one's bare toes.
Jerrie Cobb is, in short, a thoroughly feminine being, despite, her adventurous background and her awesome masculine ordeal for the man-in-space project. "It is a long way from my old PT to a space capsule," she said the other day, "but flying is the bond between them, and even if I never get up there I will always be thankful to the Creator who has made it all possible."