The International Forest of Friendship is a living, growing memorial to the world history of aviation and aerospace. The Forest was a gift to America on her 200th birthday in 1976 from the City of Atchison, Kansas (the birthplace of Amelia Earhart); The Ninety-Nines (International Organization of Women Pilots), and the Kansas State University, Kansas Forest Service.
Joe Carrigan of Atchison, Kansas, and Fay Gillis Wells, a charter member of The Ninety-Nines and noted journalist, co-chaired the Forest from its inception until their deaths. Their sons, Pat Carrigan and Lin Wells, and families continue their dream of “world friendship through flight.”
The Forest is nestled on a gentle slope overlooking Lake Warnock, on the outskirts of Atchison. It is made up of trees from all fifty states and thirty-six territories and countries around the world where honorees reside. There are trees from George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate, the Bicentennial American Spruce, a tree from Amelia's grandfather's farm, and the Moon Tree grown from a seed taken to the moon by Command Pilot Stuart Roosa on Apollo 14. This latter tree honors the 17 astronauts who gave their lives in America's pioneering of space exploration up to 2001. In 2003 a monument near the tree was dedicated to the seven astronauts lost on the Shuttle Columbia.
Winding through the Forest are pathways honoring those who have, or still are, contributing to all facets of aviation and aerospace. The original path is called Memory Lane and leads to a secluded circle of benches in a grove of trees. All of the Forest's walkways are five feet wide (wheel chair friendly) and embedded in them are granite plaques engraved with the names of over 1,400 honorees. More information about the honorees can be found here.
Included in this illustrious list are markers memorializing such aviation notables as Amelia Earhart, Charles Lindbergh, Jeana Yeager, the Wright Brothers, Sally Ride, Chuck Yeager, General "Jimmy" Doolittle, and Col Eileen M. Collins, the first woman to pilot a shuttle into space. In 1976, Memory Lane was designated as the first National Recreation Trail in Kansas. In 1991, a beautiful gazebo was dedicated to Fay Wells, in honor of her leadership to the Forest. A pond and waterfall honor Joe Carrigan for his many contributions as founding co-chairman. Nearby are the Amelia Earhart Earthworks and the Lake Warnock picnic grounds.
Within the overall theme of "world friendship through flight," annual themes allow for the exploration of specific focus areas such as "discovery though flight," "flying and forests," "flying, forests and the future," and "security and solace through flight."
The Forest is open all year round, from sunrise to sunset.
Click here to view an interactive map of the Forest.
International Forest of Friendship