Brave Bessie – a shooting star

„The colour of my skin, at first a drawback, now drew large crowds wherever I went. At first, I was a curiosity, but soon the public discovered I could really fly.“ We love this inspirational story of Bessie Coleman, the first black aviatrix in the United States.

Born in 1892 in a segregated America, Bessie Coleman had one big dream: flying airplanes! Because no flight school in the US would accept a black young woman she decided at the age of 23 to learn French and move to France, In 1920 she travelled to France and earned her pilot’s licence within a year. After returning to the US Coleman participated in flight shows all over the country earning her nickname Brave Bessie.

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In 1926 Bessie Coleman died during an airplane crash. 10.000 people attended her funeral in Chicago. Jazz saxophonist Johnny Hodges recorded the song Good Queen Bess in 1940 and her portrait appeared on a United States Postal Service postage stamp in 1955. Shortly before her death she had opened the first flight school in the US that would also accept black Americans.

We find the story of Bessie Coleman so impressive because she did not accept a defeat. When she was not allowed to attend flights schools in the US she decided to look further and took the courage to move to an unknown continent to pursue her dream. Bessie Coleman questioned the status quo in the US and set a sample for female and black pilots everywhere in the world.

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Source on which this article is based: http://www.airbusgroup.com/int/en/group-vision/Airbus-Heritage/female-pioneers/Bessie-Coleman.html

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