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Texas woman becomes the first black licensed pilot

June
15
1921

On this day in 1921, Bessie Coleman became the world's first licensed black pilot. The native of Atlanta, Texas, graduated from high school in Waxahachie and attended Colored Agricultural and Normal University in Oklahoma. After moving to Chicago, she went to France and attended the aviation school at Le Crotoy. The Federation Aeronautique Internationale issued her a pilot's license. She flew in her first air show at Curtiss Field near Manhattan in 1922. She afterward took part in many more shows while touring the country, and her daredevil stunts earned her the nickname "Brave Bessie." She was killed during a test flight on April 30, 1926, at Jacksonville, Florida. She is buried in Lincoln Cemetery at Chicago. A Chicago street is named Bessie Coleman Drive, and a United States commemorative stamp in her honor was issued in 1995.

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