In honor of black history month, we’ve highlighted African American aviators who have made significant contributions to aviation history. For starters, Bessie Coleman, the first woman of African American and Native American descent to hold a pilot license would have turned 125 on January 26, 2017. Coleman worked hard to earn enough money to enroll in aviation school at age 23. After years of saving up, no school in the states would admit her because of her race and gender. That didn’t stop Bessie. She moved to Paris and one year later earned an international aviation license becoming the first woman of color to hold a pilot license.
Aviation Pioneer William Powell was also rejected from several flight school’s due to his race. But, in 1928 he caught a break and was admitted into flight school in Los Angeles and finished earning his license in 1932. In the middle of aviation school, he helped form an aviation organization in 1929 dubbed the Bessie Coleman Aero Club. Later he made a movie, published a monthly journal about African American aviation and much more.
These brave pioneers, along with others, such as Willa Brown and Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., inspired people of all backgrounds and truly changed American history for the better. Learn more about other African American aviators and how they shaped the aviation industry into what it is today.
Until next time,