Dating back in history, blacks flew in segregated circumstances.

Have you heard about the story of one woman called Bessie Coleman who overcame the entrenched discrimination of the time? Racial prejudice excluded most who wanted to become pilots. Bessie fearlessly took to the air when aviation was a greater risk than it is today and when few men had been able to muster such courage.

An avid reader, Bessie was well informed on aviation matters. Given the opportunity, she knew she could become as efficient in aviation as anyone. She toyed with the idea of learning to fly, even displayed an airplane made by a Negro boy in the window of the barber shop in which she was a manicurist. She was refused by each aviation school to which she applied, sometimes because of her race and sometimes because she was a woman.Finally, after many years of trying she was helped by a one Mr R. Abbort to do her flight training in France where she graduated with her pilot’s licence. Bessie had obtained her certificate at great personal expense and sacrifice.

Yes We Can Fly.

She returned to U.S.A in 1922 where she organized several airshow demonstrations – the plan being to raise money so she could build a flight school for young black aspiring pilots. Her brief career as a stunt pilot inspired a generation of black youth.She continued to work so hard, writ]ting numerous letters to raise funds to build this school. The last letter she ever wrote was to her sister, Ellois Patterson in which were the words “I am on the verge of opening a flight school”. Sadly, she died without having seen her flight school built but her dream still lives on, for purpose is stronger than death!

What lessons have we learnt from the story of Bessie?

  • Do you notice that if you are a woman you can also become a great pilot and inspire generations?
  • I have also observed that those who create opportunities for others especially in aviation, are the ones who make the greatest impact.

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