ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Black Heroes: Women Aviators

Updated on December 28, 2014
Bessie Coleman Stamp.
Bessie Coleman Stamp. | Source
Janet Bragg
Janet Bragg | Source
Willa Brown.
Willa Brown. | Source

Bessie Colman, Janet Bragg, and Willa Brown

Bessie Coleman:

Many people do not realize that while Amelia Earhart was breaking barriers as a female pilot and becoming the darling of the nation, Bessie Coleman had to go to France to even be accepted in flight school and that she toiled away doing stunt flights and parachuting from planes. Coleman was born in 1892 in Atlanta, TX. She was a smart inquisitive child who enjoyed studying and made plans to attend Oklahoma Colored Agricultural College, now known as Langston University. She stayed in school for one semester before her money ran out and she moved in with her brother in Chicago.

It was while working as a manicurist, that Coleman was regaled with stories from aviators returning from WWI. She decided this was her passion and tried to find anyone who would train her. She was often turned away for being black or for being a woman. Neither blacks or whites in this country would train her. An editor, at the Chicago Defender, urged her to study abroad. With backing from a local banker and The Defender, Coleman took a French language course and set out for France. She studied at Fédération Aéronautique Internationale and became not only the first African-American to graduate from this school, but the first American of any gender.

She returned to the U.S. as a celebrity but could not make money as a pilot. She decided that the only way that she would do this was by stunt flying. However, again, no one in the U.S. would train her. She returned to France and in a few months, came back wow U.S. audiences with her flying prowess and she did so for the next five years. Her goal was to open an aviation school for young black pilots.

Coleman was a daredevil in the air and was often criticized by the press for being too flamboyant. However, she would not compromise on race. She was offered a part in a feature film where she was to appear in tattered rags with a pack on her back and she refused. Clearly ... [Bessie's] walking off the movie set was a statement of principle. Opportunist though she was about her career, she was never an opportunist about race. She had no intention of perpetuating the derogatory image most whites had of most blacks", wrote Doris Rich.

Coleman died on April 30, 1926 when the new plane she was flying took a sudden nose dive and she was thrown from the aircraft. She died instantly when she hit the ground. The cause of the accident was a wrench that was left in the engine and it jammed the gear box. Coleman’s legacy inspired African American men and women to become pilots.

Janet Harmon Bragg

Janet Harmon Bragg faced adversity from the time she decided she wanted to fly. If it was not the color of her skin that was used as a barrier, it was her gender. Her aviation class was all male except for herself. She endeared herself to her classmates by helping buy their first plane and helping build their school, Aeronautical University of Chicago. She was the first African American woman to earn a private pilot’s license in the United States.

She became an instructor and trained other women pilots. She applied for the Women’s Airforce Pilots (WASP) but was denied because of the color of her skin. Even though she trained WASPs, she was not allowed to be one. She then applied to be a military nurse, for which she was certified, but the military denied her application because the colored quota had been met. She was very instrumental in starting National Airmen's Association of America. She also entered the famous Civilian Pilot Training Program at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama in hopes of getting her commercial pilot’s license. She completed the coursework but was denied the license because she was a woman.

Bragg died in 1993.

Willa Brown

Willa Brown was born in Kentucky in 1906. She was trained as a teacher and Social worker, but thought that she could be doing more. She discovered flying after moving to Chicago. Her mentor was Bessie Coleman. Brown would be the first African American woman to earn a Commercial Pilot’s License. She was later named the coordinator of the Chicago unit of the Civil Air Patrol which was an integrated unit. She was also instrumental in starting the and training over 200 members of the famous Tuskegee Airmen. Brown died in 1992.

Janet Harmon Bragg

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)