Bessie Coleman Was the First Black Woman to Become a Licensed Pilot

Bessie Coleman, first Black woman pilot

Bessie Coleman was raised by a poor family in a time of discrimination and segregation, but this didn't stop her from becoming the first Black woman to become a licensed pilot. In fact, her passion for aviation was inspired by the stories of soldiers who had been returning from World War I.
Coleman was born in 1892 in Atlanta, Texas, and move to Chicago, Illinois at the age of 23. By the time she was 28-years old, she was living in France studying French and also learning how to fly.

At the age of 29, she was awarded an international pilot's license by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale - which officially established her as the first Black woman in the world to obtain a pilot's license. When she returned to the United States, she became an instant celebrity.

Coleman later went on to perform at numerous airshows and was known for her daredevil stunts. She encouraged other African Americans to also pursue a career in flying, and also stood up for civil rights - refusing to perform for shows where Black spectators were not allowed to purchase tickets.

Sadly, she tragically died in an airplane crash plane in 1926 at the young age of 34, but is still remembered today as a courageous trailblazer who paved the way for Black pilots today all over the world.