Posted Sept. 19, 2005 -- Bessie Coleman, who had been turned away from several aviation schools because of her color, will inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame, it was announced Saturday.
In 1921, Coleman traveled to France where she was able to earn her pilot rating, becoming the world's first Black pilot and now the first African-American to be inducted into the hall. She will be among four incoming inductees at the 45th Annual Enshrinement Dinner & Ceremony to be held July 15, 2006 in Dayton.
NAHF Executive Director Ron Kaplan made the announcement at a Daytona charity gala held in Coleman’s honor, which was hosted by Oprah Winfrey and renowned author and poet, Maya Angelou.
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Coleman, an Atlanta, Texas native was born in 1893, eventually moving to Chicago where she was living with her brother when her interest in flight inspired her to pursue a pilot’s license.
When she returned to America, she was the only Black female pilot in the world and the first licensed Black pilot in the United States. Postponing her dream to start a flying school for African Americans, she earned a living performing precision flight demonstrations at air shows and other public expositions. In Florida in 1926, after recovering from her first serious accident, she returned to performing but lost her life while flying in preparation for an air show.
Ironically, within a few years of her death, Bessie Coleman Aero Clubs became a reality. In 1995, the United States Postal Service issued a stamp with her image as part of its Black Heritage Commemorative series.
Three more aviation legends will join Coleman for formal enshrinement next July, but their names will not be publicly released until Dec. 16, 2005.