Women in Aviation Hall of Fame inductees named

Women in Aviation, International has revealed the latest inductees into its International Pioneer Hall of Fame.

These women and men will be honored at WAI’s 24th Annual International Conference, which will be held March 14-16, at the Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville, Tennessee. The ceremony will take place at the closing banquet on Saturday, March 16.

“The banquet is the culminating event of our annual conference,” says WAI President Dr. Peggy Chabrian. “Inducting new individuals into our Pioneer Hall of Fame is typically the high point of the evening. Our members have the opportunity to learn the stories first-hand — and often meet and be photographed with — the women and men who made history. It’s thrilling to witness.”

The Pioneer Hall of Fame Inductees for 2013 are:

Mary Frances Silitch: Silitch was the first woman editor of a national mainstream aviation magazine when she was named editor-in-chief of Private Pilot magazine. Having begun her magazine publishing career at Mademoiselle magazine in 1963, Silitch’s publishing career took her to Flying, Air Progress, Professional Pilot, and AOPA Pilot. She has flown 250 types of aircraft and logged 5,000 hours. Even in retirement, Silitch still contributes from time to time to an aviation magazine. She opened the door for many women who currently work for aviation magazines. Says Aviation for Women Editor Amy Laboda, “I am in her debt.”

Lt. Col. Karen Tribbett Brannen: Karen Brannen earned her gold wings from NAS Meridian in 1997. She was the first female strike fighter pilot in Marine history. Brannen currently works as a demonstration pilot for Gulfstream. In addition, she is a Lieutenant Colonel in the Marine Reserves.

Women in Aviation, International Founding Board of Directors: As WAI approaches its 20th anniversary as an organization, the founding board members deserve special recognition, officials note. These 16 individuals guided the fledgling event into a conference and membership organization. Their insight and wisdom provided a solid foundation on which to build a robust association.

The Women in Aviation, International Pioneer Hall of Fame was established in 1992 to honor women who have made significant contributions as record setters, pioneers, or innovators. Special consideration is given to individuals or groups who have helped other women be successful in aviation or opened doors of opportunity for other women. Each year, the organization solicits nominations from throughout the aviation industry for the WAI Pioneer Hall of Fame.

With the theme “Setting the Stage for your Own Success,” the WAI Conference will include seminars, tours, workshops, networking events, speakers, and a commercial exhibit area. The conference concludes on Saturday evening, with WAI’s annual banquet where many scholarships are awarded and the 2013 group of Pioneers is inducted into WAI’s Aviation Pioneer Hall of Fame.

Registration is available at WAI.org, and the discounted WAI Conference rate is available at Gaylord Opryland Resort through Feb. 20. Discounted registration is available for military personnel and full-time students.


  1. Pete Gillies says

    Janice – Just wanted to take this moment to compliment you on the web version of GAN. I read every article published in GAN. The format is excellent. Your choice of articles is tops as are your contributors. This article on WAI and the B-17 hits close to home. My mom, Betty Gillies, was in the first WASP squadron formed in WW2 and had the pleasure of ferrying the Flying Fortress more than once. I remember her saying that the ailerons were a heavy workload, and that more than one male pilot said the B-17 was way too much airplane for a woman to fly.

    Keep on keeping on, Janice! GAN is fortunate to have you on the team.


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