In 1915, 23-year-old Bessie Coleman moved and lived with her brothers in Chicago, where she worked as a manicurist. But not long after this, she began to listen to and read stories about pilots in World War I, which sparked her interest in flying. In 1922, she finally became an aviator herself, but not only that—she became the first African American woman to stage a public flight in the US, with her high-flying skills always greatly impressing her audience. The following are the accomplishments of Coleman.
She Was The First Black Woman To Earn a Pilot’s License.
1922 was a time of both racial and gender discrimination, but Coleman broke barriers by becoming the first black woman in the world to earn a pilot’s license. As flying schools in the US denied her entry, she learned how to speak French and moved to France to earn flying license from the well-known Caudron Brother’s School of Aviation in just 7 months. She specialized in stunt flying and parachuting and earned a living through performing aerial tricks and barnstorming.
She Had Successfully Lined Up a Series Of Lectures On Flying And Of Exhibition Flights For Her Own Aviation School.
Coleman went to California to earn money to purchase her own plane, but she unfortunately crashed it immediately, so she decided to return to Chicago to devise a new plan. In a span of 2 years, she finally succeeded in lining up a series of lectures and exhibition flights in Texas which earned her money for a new plane. She made a down payment on an old Jenny – JN-4 with an OX-5 engine at Love Field and then traveled to the southeast where she gave a series of lectures in black theaters in Georgia and Florida. To hasten her accumulation of funds to start her long-awaited school of flying, she even opened a beauty shop in Orlando. However, she managed to continue exhibition flying and occasional parachute jumping using borrowed planes.
She Inspired The Establishment Of Many Flying Schools For African Americans In The US.
Tragically, on the 30th of April 1926, Coleman was killed in an accident when she performed a rehearsal for an aerial show, which sent her plummeting to her death at 34 years of age. Only after this unfortunate event did she received the attention she deserved. As you can see, her dream of a flying school for African Americans was realized when William J. Powell established the Bessie Coleman Aero Club in 1929 in Los Angeles, California, which then affiliated, educated and inspired flyers, such as the Five Blackbirds, the Tuskeegee Airmen and the Flying Hobos, to continue making Coleman’s dream a reality. Also, the Challenger Pilots’ Association of Chicago started an annual flyover in 1931 at Chicago’s Lincoln Cemetery to honor her, and the women pilots in the state established the Bessie Coleman Aviators Club in 1977.
In 1995, she was honored by the US Postal Service by issuing a “Bessie Coleman” stamp that commemorates her singular accomplishment in becoming the first African American woman pilot in the world, and by definition, an American legend. Coleman has remained a pioneer of women in the area of aviation.