Fay Gillis Wells

Year Inducted: 

Fay Gillis Wells abandoned college in 1929 for flying. Three days after making her first solo flight, she was invited to take a ride in an experimental aircraft while the pilot maneuvered through some aerobatics. While flying upside down, the plane fell apart, but Fay managed to survive with her parachute. This unplanned adventure resulted in Fay’s being hired by the Curtiss Flying Service as saleswoman and demonstrator. It also earned her the distinction of first woman member of the Caterpillar Club for aviators who parachute from disabled aircraft. Fay, along with Amelia Earhart, was a co-founder of the Ninety-Nines. In the early 1930s Fay was a freelance correspondent in the Soviet Union for the New York Herald Tribune, the Associated Press and aviation magazines. While there, she became the first American woman to pilot a Soviet civil aircraft, and was the first foreigner to own a glider in the Soviet Union. She died in 2002.

Benefits of a WAI Membership

WAI members seek to inspire and stand for encouragement, continued education, and a whole lot of fun! If you’re a lover of all things aviation and aerospace, and enjoy sharing your passion with others, we’d love to have you! Membership includes job search opportunities, scholarship opportunities, access to mentors in your industry, and much more.

Become a Member