Bessie Coleman


Bessie Coleman Famous memorial

Original Name Elizabeth Coleman
Atlanta, Cass County, Texas, USA
Death 30 Apr 1926 (aged 34)
Jacksonville, Duval County, Florida, USA
Burial Blue Island, Cook County, Illinois, USA
Plot Section 9, Lot 580, Grave N3-W 1/2
Memorial ID 19750 View Source

Aviatrix. Generally recognized as the first African American aviator. She became interested in aviation from reading aviation magazines. Due to her race and gender, she could not gain entrance into any aviation schools in the United States. Learning from French (this group may have included Eugene "Jacque" Bullard, an African American who had been a military aviator with the French in World War I) and German instructor pilots, she earned her pilot's license in France in 1921 and an international pilot's license in 1922. She was the first female pilot of African American and Native American descent to do so. She then returned to the United States where she, fondly known as "Brave Bessie," appeared in shows all around the country as an exhibition pilot and spoke on opportunities in aviation. She was planning to open a flying school for young African Americans when tragedy struck. While flying in the rear seat with a student pilot at Jacksonville, Florida, the controls of her aircraft jammed. Coleman, who was normally very safety conscious, was not wearing her seat belt (perhaps to do a more thorough assessment of landmarks for the following day's airshow and parachute jump) and fell from the aircraft when it flipped over at an altitude of 3,000 feet. The student pilot, who was strapped in, was also killed when the aircraft crashed about 1,800 feet from where Ms. Coleman struck the ground. On each anniversary of her death, pilots have dropped flower arrangements on her grave. Lincoln Cemetery, Chicago, Illinois

Bio by: Warrick L. Barrett

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 24 Jan 2001
  • Find a Grave Memorial ID: 19750
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Bessie Coleman (26 Jan 1892–30 Apr 1926), Find a Grave Memorial ID 19750, citing Lincoln Cemetery, Blue Island, Cook County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by Find a Grave .