Bessie Coleman (1892 –1926) was an early American civil aviator and the first African-American woman to hold a pilots license.
Born to a family of sharecroppers in Texas, Coleman worked in the cotton fields at a young age while also studying in a small segregated school. She developed an early interest in flying but African Americans and women had no flight training opportunities in the United States. Undeterred Bessie saved her money, learned to speak French and obtained sponsorship to go to France for flight school, where she earned her license from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale in 1921. On her return to the US she became a highly paid stunt pilot, popularly known as ‘Queen Bess’ or ‘Brave Bess’. It was her ambition to open a flying school for African Americans but tragically she died in 1926 when her plane crashed.
Bess was just 34.
I salute Queen Bess the aviatrix!