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Savvy Sistahs Soar: Bessie Coleman

Bessie Coleman 1893-1926

“I refused to take no for an answer.”

Bessie Coleman was both African-American and female, and she is remembered as an aviation pioneer for both groups. Coleman grew up in Texas, moved to Chicago, and got interested in flying after her brothers returned from World War I. Failing to find anyone in Chicago who would teach flying to a black woman, Coleman determined to go abroad to get training — a daring move for that era. She moved to Paris, was accepted to aviation school, and on 15 June 1921 she received her pilot’s license from the Federation Aeronautique Internationale. The certificate made her the world’s first licensed black aviator. Coleman returned to the United States and began a barnstorming career, appearing at airshows across the country. She died in 1926 while flight-testing an open-cockpit plane; her co-pilot lost control of the aircraft and in the ensuing dive Coleman was tossed from the plane and plunged to her death.

Bio Courtesy of Answers.com

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