Bessie Coleman’s High Altitude Passion

bessie-coleman-2American civil aviator Bessie Coleman was the first female pilot of African American descent, the first African American woman to hold a pilot license and the first American woman to hold an international pilot license.

A public library in Chicago was named in Coleman’s honor, as are roads at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Oakland International Airport in Oakland, California, Tampa International Airport in Florida, and at Frankfurt International Airport.

A memorial plaque has been placed by the Chicago Cultural Center at the location of her former home, 41st and King Drive in Chicago, and by custom, black aviators drop flowers during flyovers of her grave at Lincoln Cemetery. Several Bessie Coleman Scholarship Awards have been established for high school seniors planning on careers in aviation and the U.S. Postal Service issued a 32-cent stamp honoring her in 1995. In 2006, she was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame and in 2012 a bronze plaque with was installed on the front doors of Paxon School for Advanced Studies located on the site of the Jacksonville airfield where Coleman’s fatal flight took off.

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