Willa Beatrice Brown

Willa Beatrice Brown

Birth
Glasgow, Barren County, Kentucky, USA
Death 18 Jul 1992 (aged 86)
Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, USA
Burial Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, USA
Memorial ID 7288758 · View Source
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Aviation Pioneer. Th first African-American woman to hold a commercial pilot's license in the United States and the first African-American female officer in the Civil Air Patrol, as a young high school teacher in Gary, Indiana, and later a social worker in Chicago, she felt that her talents were being wasted. She sought greater challenges and adventures in life, especially if they could be found outside the limited career fields normally open to African-American's. Brown soon decided to learn to fly, studying with Cornelius R. Coffey, a certified flight instructor and expert aviation mechanic at one of Chicago's racially segregated airports. She earned her private pilot's license in 1938. Later, Brown and Coffey married and established the Coffey School of Aeronautics at Harlem Airport in Chicago, where they trained black pilot's aviation mechanics. Together with her husband and Enoch P. Waters, Brown helped form the National Airman's Association of America in 1939, whose main goal was to get black aviation cadets into the United States military. As the organization's national secretary and the president of the Chicago branch, Brown became an activist for racial equality. She continually lobbed the government for integration of black pilots into the segregated army Air Corps and the federal Civilian Pilot Training Program (CPTP) which later help led the United States Congress to subsequently voting to allow seperate-but-equal participation of African-American's in civilian flight training programs. Later, her flight school was selected by the U.S. Army to provide black trainees for the Air Corps pilot training program at Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University). Brown eventually became the coordinator of war-training service for the Civil Aeronautics Authority and later was a member of the Federal Aviation Administration's Women's Advisory Board. Willa Brown died in Chicago in 1992. Among her honors include being inducted into the Military Aviation Hall of Fame of the state of Illinois.

Bio by: Curtis Jackson


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Curtis Jackson
  • Added: 24 Mar 2003
  • Find A Grave Memorial 7288758
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Willa Beatrice Brown (22 Jan 1906–18 Jul 1992), Find A Grave Memorial no. 7288758, citing Oak Woods Cemetery, Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .