Bessie Coleman

Elizabeth “Bessie” Coleman

Elizabeth “Bessie” Coleman was a young pilot of Native- and African-American descent who became something of a minor press sensation in the United States during the 1920s where she earned a living as a “barnstorming” stunt flier in fairs and exhibitions across the country. With trips to France, the Netherlands and Germany, “Queen Bess“, as she was publicised, seems to have been a remarkably self-confident woman who overcame the perceived disadvantages of race, class and gender at a time when discrimination towards all three was the norm. Unfortunately her life was cut short in a plane accident at Jacksonville, Florida, in 1926. The Texas-born aviator was just thirty-four years of age. You can read a fuller account of her story at Patrick Murfin’s blog, one that I was quite unaware of until recently. In thinking of her I can only imagine a female “Waldo Pepper“.



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