Born on January 26, 1892, American aviator Bessie Coleman was the first African-American woman to hold a pilot license and the first American woman to hold an international pilot license. Her daredevil figure eights, loops, and dives in aviation shows earned her reputation as a celebrated stunt pilot. From The Smithsonian Channel: The First Female African American Pilot. Plus, a quick bio from Google Doodle:

At age 23, Coleman moved to Chicago where she worked two jobs in an effort to save enough money to enroll in aviation school. After working for five years, she moved to Paris to study, as no school in America would admit her due to her race and gender. Just a year later, Coleman became the first female pilot of African-American and Native American descent, and the first to earn an international aviation license from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale.

In order to earn a living, Coleman made a plan to become a stunt pilot and perform for paying audiences. However, she was again denied enrollment in a stunt training program in the US, and in 1922, traveled to Europe where she completed her training in France and Germany.

Returning to the US, Coleman excelled at exhibition flying, performing complex stunts in flight for packed audiences. It was during this time that she acquired the nickname “Queen Bessie.”

Bessie_Coleman_and_her_plane_(1922)

Related reading: Who was Bessie Coleman and why does she still matter?

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