Honoring the Mercury 13 Women
May 12, 2007 * UW Oshkosh Spring Commencement

Before Sally Ride, Christa McAuliffe and Eileen Collins, courageous women were setting new records and conquering new horizons. Though largely unrecognized in history, the Mercury 13 women showed their determination, strength and bravery in the Space Race with accomplishments that paved the way for generations. The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh is proud to recognize the pioneering spirit of these women with honorary Doctor of Science—honoris causa—degrees.


Rhea Allison Hurrle Woltman

Rhea Woltman was born to the life of a central Minnesota farm girl. She once flew a Piper Super Cub seaplane from Houston, Texas, to Lake Hood in Anchorage, Ala., completely on her own. She also instructed and towed gliders for Cadets at the Air Force Academy.

A secretary and executive pilot for a small aircraft sales and engineering firm, she kept her aspirations to herself. She never had even mentioned her exceptional flying skills to her family, much less that she’d been selected to be tested for the space program. They found out when Life magazine featured her with the other Mercury 13 women.

She has flown in the International Women’s Air Race and in the Powder Puff Race. She possesses a commercial pilot’s license, with airplane single-engine and multi-engine land ratings, a single engine sea rating, an instrument rating, and is a certified flight instructor and certified ground instructor. She has flown all over the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Shortly after the Mercury 13 testing, Woltman stopped flying professionally. She lives in Colorado.

Download Rhea Allison Hurrle Woltman commendation (pdf)