Sunday, October 12, 2014
Bessie Coleman-First A.A. Female Pilot
Elizabeth "Bessie" Coleman was an American civil aviator. She was the first female pilot of African American descent & the first person of African-American descent to hold an international pilot license. When she turned 18, she took her savings and enrolled in the Oklahoma Colored Agricultural and Normal University (now called Langston University) in Langston, Oklahoma. She completed one term before her money ran out, and she returned home. In 1916 at the age of 23, she moved to Chicago, Illinois, where she lived with her brothers and she worked at the White Sox Barber Shop as a manicurist, where she heard stories from pilots returning home from World War I about flying during the war. She could not gain admission to American flight schools because she was black and a woman. Coleman took a French-language class at the Berlitz school in Chicago, and then traveled to Paris on November 20, 1920, so she could earn her pilot license. On June 15, 1921, Coleman became not only the first woman of African-American descent to earn an international aviation license from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, and the first American of any gender or ethnicity to do so, but the first woman of African-American descent to earn an aviation pilot's license.