Myrtle "K" Thompson Cagle
Bitten by the flying bug at an early age, “K” Cagle attempted to join an aeronautics class at her high school. Her mother was able to convince the principal to allow her into the class because Cagle, at age 12, had already received flight lessons from her brother. She did so well in the class that when the instructor was drafted, she stepped into the role of teacher for the remainder of the year.
Throughout her career, she completed a number of flight-related courses, earning a commercial pilot’s license, with airplane single and multi-engine land rating and an instrument rating. She became certified as flight instructor, flight instrument instructor and ground instructor. Because she holds an airframe and power plant license, she is a certified aviation mechanic as well. Cagle also is a licensed nurse.
In 1961, she received an invitation to train as an astronaut at the Lovelace Clinic in Albuquerque, N.M. She was working as a flight instructor in Macon, Ga., and had accumulated an impressive 4,300 hours of flying time, which was more than some of the Mercury 7 men. Cagle, 36, was a newlywed at the time.
Since she was small in stature—she was 5-feet, 2-inches tall and weighed 100 pounds—Cagle would have been an ideal candidate for space flight. Even when screening the Mercury 7 men, height and weight constraints needed to be considered due to the fuel and weight requirements of lifting a capsule.
When the Mercury 13 project was called off, she returned to Georgia to resume her role as aviation instructor and worked with the Civil Air Patrol, which aided the U.S. Air Force during times of natural disasters or other emergencies.