Meet Bessie Coleman the First Black Woman to Get a Pilots License Atlas Obscura

“Enjoying This Story? Get our latest, delivered straight to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter. Subscribe to our newsletter and get our latest, sent right to your inbox. Subscribe
In the summer of 1922 a biplane whirred above an amazed crowd gathered in a New York airfield. The pilot, an African-Chocktaw-American woman named Bessie Coleman, made daring figure-eight loops and perilous barrel rolls, smoke swirling across the sky.
The New York Times reported that she flew planes u201cof many typesu201d on her international flying license, the first woman of color to accomplish this in the world. Coleman, u201cwithout any instruction, flew a 220-horsepower Benz motored L. F. G. Plane,u201d in Europe, the Times impressed, and she had already become skilled in flying u201cthe largest plane ever flown by a woman.u201d
This was not expected behavior in the 1920s. Men and women of color were not only seen as people who couldnu2019t flyu2014they were not supposed to fly. For Bessie Coleman, this was not a barrier. It was a challenge.
Born in Atlanta, Texas, Coleman walked miles to school, where she soon revealed herself to be smartu2014especially in math. Her mother taught her about strong black figures, and recognizing her intelligence, allowing her to keep her earnings as a laundress so she could finance her education past the eighth grade. She attended the Colored Agricultural and Normal University, now called Langston University, until her funds ran out. Despite this setback, she continued to work and save money until she was able to move to Chicago to join her brothers in 1915.
Itu2019s not entirely certain when Coleman first decided she wanted to fly planes; but the possibility began to seem more real when she worked as a manicurist in the White Sox Barber Shop in Chicago. Her brother, a veteran of the First World War, told her teasing stories about France, where women were allowed to fly planes. She applied to schools in the United States, but no school would take on a woman of color as a student.”

Original link