Gillies file photo

Betty Gillies

Born7 Jan 1908
Died14 Oct 1998
CountryUnited States
CategoryAir

Contributor: C. Peter Chen

Betty Huyler Gillies was born in 1908. She was married in 1930 and had three children; two of her children and four of her grandchildren eventually became pilots. Between 1939 and 1941, she was the president of the Ninety-Nines, an international club of women flyers. As a 14-year veteran pilot with 1,400 hours of flying time, she was the first pilot to qualify for the Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron on 12 Sep 1942, thus making her one of the 28 "Originals". She eventually became the squadron leader of the 2nd Ferrying Group based at New Castle Army Air Base, Wilmington, Delaware, United States. In early Mar 1943, she became the first woman to fly the P-47 Thunderbolt fighter when she was checked out on the aircraft at Wilmington; the check out consisted of an explanation of aircraft systems, flight characteristics, and emergency procedures. Since the P-47 was a single seat aircraft, her first flight was also her first solo flight. In Apr 1943, she led three other pilots in ferrying four PT-26 Cornell trainer aircraft, with cruising speed of only about 100 miles per hour, from Hagerstown, Maryland in the United States to Alberta, Canada, which was over 2,500 miles in distance; she was commended for the efficiency she had shown during this ferry mission. On 15 Aug 1943, ten days after the formation of the new Women Airforce Service Pilots organization, Nancy Harkness Love and Gillies became the first female pilots to qualify as first pilots of the B-17 Flying Fortress bombers. Later that month, the two made three ferrying missions for B-17 bombers. She returned to her normal life on 20 Dec 1944 when the Women Airforce Service Pilots organization was disbanded. In the 1950s, as a ham radio operator, she made contact with ships in the Pacific Ocean and the United States Navy base at Antarctica during Operation Deep Freeze. In 1964, she was appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson as the first Federal Aviation Administration Women's Advisory Committee. She passed away in 1998.

Sources: Glen Gillies, Wikipedia.

Betty Gillies Timeline

7 Jan 1908 Betty Gillies was born.
14 Oct 1998 Betty Gillies passed away.

Photographs

Betty Gillies posing besides an aircraft, date unknownPilot Nancy Harkness Love and WAF co-pilot Betty Huyler Gillies, the first women to fly the B-17 Flying Fortress bomber, circa 1943-1945




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Visitor Submitted Comments

  1. Patricia Gillies Astier says:
    15 Jun 2010 12:05:49 PM

    I have tried to do a print of your article about my Mother, Betty Gillies, but it won't print. I just get a blank page. How can I get a copy of the article?
    Thanks.
  2. C. Peter Chen says:
    15 Jun 2010 01:34:31 PM

    Hello Patricia,

    Thanks for visiting WW2DB. What browser are you using, and what version is the browser? When you tried to print, is it a completely blank page, or do you see other elements of the page such as the banner image or footer content?
  3. David Mounts says:
    19 Jun 2011 06:37:57 AM

    Very good article. Pleased to see that members of the Gillies family are still around. My mother, Mabel, did housework for the family in the late 50s / early 60s. Got to meet this wonderful lady while in high school. Can't thank these people enough.

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Betty Gillies posing besides an aircraft, date unknown
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