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Fay Gillis Wells

First Woman Pilot of the Caterpillar Club


Fay Gillis Wells acquired fame as the first woman pilot to parachute from a disabled airplane to save her life which qualified her to be the first woman member of the Caterpillar Club, Sept. 1, 1929. She was cofounder of the Ninety-Nines, whose first president was Amelia Earhart. During the early 1930s, in Russia with her father, Julius H. Gillis, a mining engineer, Fay traveled as a correspondent covering aviation activities for the New York Herald Tribune, Associated Press and The Sportsman Pilot.

Moscow was an ?airway beacon? for famous aviators attempting to break around-the-world flight records. In 1933 Fay served as the logistician in Siberia for Wiley Post?s around-the-world solo flight. As a long time White House Correspondent for Storer Broadcasting, Fay Wells covered the Johnson, Nixon, Ford and Carter Administrations. She made two trips to Vietnam with Presidents Johnson and Nixon, and was one of three female reporters accompanying President Nixon on his ground-breaking trip to China in 1972. After WWII, Linton and Fay returned to America with their son, Linton Wells, Jr., and retired.

Fay Gillis Wells is still extremely active in aviation, especially mentoring the International Forest of Friendship in Atchison, KS, Amelia Earhart’s birth place. In 1976, during America?s 200th birthday, Fay cofounded this forest as a living memorial to world wide peace and friendship through aviation.