GRANVILLE -- After a lifetime as an aviation reporter and editor, Mary Frances Silitch is used to boarding planes in pursuit of news.
In March, she will fly to Nashville, but this time she will be the one making news.
Silitch, 77, will be traveling to the 24th annual conference of Women In Aviation, International and will be inducted into the WAI’s International Pioneer Hall of Fame.
Her husband, Nicholas, will travel with her to the conference, scheduled for March 14-16 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort. The ceremony will take place at the closing banquet on March 16.
“The banquet is the culminating event of our annual conference,” WAI President Peggy Chabrian said in a press release. “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.”
Silitch, who moved to Granville eight years ago after a long journalism career, said this was not something she was expecting.
“I was quite surprised,” said Silitch, who was the first female editor of a national mainstream aviation magazine when she was named editor-in-chief of Private Pilot magazine in 1987. “I am really looking forward to this.
Silitch began her magazine career at Mademoiselle magazine in 1963. Her 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 has made news of her own in the past. In the 1980s, Silitch set a world speed record of 180.44 mph for light-turbine amphibian planes.
The other individual inductee is Lt. Col. Karen Tribbett Brannen, the first female strike fighter pilot in U.S. Marines history. Brannen currently works as a demonstration pilot for Gulfstream and is in the Marine Reserves.
In addition, the 16 founding members of Women in Aviation will also be inducted into the Pioneer Hall of Fame.
Silitch is also a member of the Arkansas Aviation Hall of Fame and has received a number of other regional and national honors. Since moving to Granville, she has been involved in the Granville Democratic Committee and the Slate Valley Garden Club, and she is a member of the board of trustees of Granville’s Pember Library and Museum, as well as Zonta in Glens Falls.