“The air is the only place free from prejudice.” –B.C.
In honor of Black History month, let’s shine the spotlight on Bessie Coleman! Once crowned as the world’s greatest female pilot, she was an incredibly ambitious young woman whom did not let the prejudices of her time intercede with her dreams. Aviation was a young field during Bessie’s era, and the prospects of flying instantly captured her imagination. After repeatedly being turned down by state-side aviation schools she decided to simply take her ambition across the big pond, and study in France. After several years of studying French and saving up, Coleman made her big move, and became the first certified African American pilot in only a year. Though a proficient flyer, Bessie further pursued her aviation studies by training in acrobatic flying at several academies in France, Germany and the Netherlands.
Bessie officially returned to the United States in 1922 and was welcomed into the country as a prodigy by the Black American community. Between her air-shows, lectures, and ambition to create an African American flying school- Coleman challenged the societal constraints imposed upon Black Americans at the time. Unfortunately this high flyer fell to here death in 1926 from airplane in Jacksonville, but her legacy continues to inspire even today in the slew of organizations that pay homage to her such as Bessie Coleman Aero Club, Bessie Aviators organization, and the National Women’s Hall of Fame.
To this day every April 30th African American pilots (of both sexes) fly in formation and drop flowers over Bessie Coleman’s resting place as if to remind the world of her famous words: “Never take no for an answer.”
– OIA Bloggers