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Bessie Coleman: Daredevil Aviatrix

2012-02-22 | 🔗

Bessie Coleman knew that becoming a pilot was her dream. Because she was a black woman, no American flight schools would admit her. Despite the obstacles, Bessie managed to become the first African-American woman in the world to earn a pilot's license.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Hey listeners, I wanted to tell you about a new podcast from my heart radio called the women hosted by read it. Is fascinating and deep dive interview show where rose talks to change makers in disruptors and she finds out what really drives them. So she will ask each of them what was your first stand, and how do you navigate success and failure, and really what's the cost of fighting for others, these interviews are really personal and their candid em for those there a little bit crass, but they are always really enlightening. You can listen, he's firebrands and take away lessons that will help you navigate your own life and for your own path, the debut season, pleads women like Valerie, Plain, the former CIA agents, who is now running for Congress and whistleblowers. The attrition Doktor Mona Hannah, a teacher who exposed the flint water crisis and became the centre of Swirling swirling amount of problems and he legendary Buffy, say Marie Sixty songwriter and activist. I have personal interest in this. Show
his. I adore rose and executive produce it and I think you're really going to enjoy the way that she gets into these, relations that feel like two friends talking and they An absolute delight so subscribed to the women on the ice. Radio app on apple pie casts or wherever you get your pipe cast. I'm pretty sure, I'm America's number one gossip colonies. I Tell you about my new celebrity podcast naughty, but nice with Rob. Shooter every Monday, three thursday I'll be joined by some of my fellow gossip reporters and maybe even a celebrity or two to serve up the fresh T, Listen subscribe on the eye, heart, radio up apple podcast or where ever you get your favorite show welcome to stuff. You missed in history class from house up works,
look into the per capita Blanche are providing can unfair, daddy and three months is drawing to a close and women's history month is right around the corner. He thought it would be. to do an episode that kind of bridging the gap between the two a little bed and its also great excuse to return to a subject. We really love but haven't touched on since last springs. Mystery of Saint acts at the sound and act aviators, and, of course, this episode want include many mysterious disappearances or a little prick impersonation Molina little friends, one of my favorite part had thought that
That means that the life of this subject does. He call, then, is any less fascinating. Not at all common was the first african american woman in the world to earn a pilot licence, and she was also the first licensed african american pilot of either fact. According to flight journal, she was the contemporary of Amelia Erhard and, in fact, earned her pilot places a year, but Erhard did. Of course she managed to do this in the early nineteen. Twenty is during a time when most Americans, even those a community, still felt that a woman's place within the home, not in the workplace and certainly not flying around in the sky what's more segregation was still a big factor and there weren't any white flight instructors who were willing to take on common ass. A student there, we're gonna, be taking at? How common overcame these obstacles to pursue her dream? After all, if there weren't white flight instructors, who are willing to take her on, how did she learned to fly
They weren't black white knows: oh yeah, that's gonna be the one of the mysteries we unveil and then we're gonna. Take a look too why she wanted to learn to fly in the first place and how, after becoming a pilot, she used her position to fight for equality for others of her but a truly understand what common was up against in pursuing her dream of flying. You really have to go Way backed her childhood. She was born Elizabeth comment. January, twenty six eighteen, ninety two in Atlanta Taxes- and she was one of thirteen children and a family of poor sharecroppers. her mother season Coleman was black and her father. George Common was of mixed race, part african, American and Part Cherokee. Neither bessys parents could read or write for an eighteen. Ninety four George Common moved his family to walk the hatchie taxes and bought a small plot of
bear to build a three room house. Then their new town, the commons, earn a living by picking cotton and all the kids pitched into to help raise money for the family, but they also went to school because their parents wanted a better life for them course pulls works Get it at the time for Bessie had to walk for miles every day to her school, which was basically just a thing Rome that handled all eight grades thou were offered, but despite those circumstances that long trip to school and the combined nature, the classroom, bessys academic abilities, really became clear. even at a young age. She was especially good at math and she even used her skills to make sure the foreman of the fields her family worked and didn't cheat them when it was time for them to get paid. But one but was somewhere in the age range of six to nine years. Old sources seem to differ on the exact timing of that her father left them. He felt that desk
nation really limited as opportunities for advancement and taxes, and so he wanted to move to indian territory where, as we talked about on some previous podcast, his native american ancestry would have made him more of an equal citizens but seized and common didn't want that life. She didn't want to be a tough pioneer family, though she stayed behind with the kid than supported the family on her own by working as a cook and a housekeeper for a white fish, which was also tat. Of course I mean, as you would expect it to be, but meanwhile Bessie had to take on the housekeeping duties with her mother away working this the day in her own household and take care of her younger sisters. While her mother was away and often she had. This school to to do others, which must have been hard for such a bright student. She still had really big dreams, though an Bessys mother encourage that, according to an article on flight journal by Dennis Morality, Bessys was known to day.
You say in your you'll: never when the race and she's to have our kids copy, the manners of the White tell me that she worked for and she talk to them about the great achievements African Americans, like a book or to Washington and Harriet Tubman, and it must have made an impression, when Bessie completed all eight grades in her one room, schoolhouse, and that was all that they offered because they just expected. Ok, you by work, exactly you're gonna go can the fields now she graduated in nineteen ten, and at that point she knew that she wanted more. After that, she wanted to become something else. First, she had saved up the money by working at the Laundress the whole time and in that The age of eighteen seized the savings to, and role in, the colored agricultural and normal University in Langston Oklahoma. It's now university, but she only had enough money to attend for one terms, those things that was that she had to go back home start doing
Andrey and cleaning again to say that the more money so at that point it seem like she wasn't quite sure what her next move was. Gonna, be a mean, obviously, that such a difficult scenario to maintain working saving. My than going for a for a term. It all changed, though, in her older brother, Walter invited her to come and live with him in Chicago, and she still had to save up for a couple years to make that move possible. But at the age of twenty three Bothy headed nor in Chicago was just a different world. They had an entire area of the city, the south side, which was settled by mostly blocks, and there were just more job opportunities and there were back and walked to hatch. so Bessie enrolled in a beauty school and she ended it becoming a manicurist at the white Socks, barbershop affairs after she moved up to Chicago her mom and sisters moved up there too. While her brothers, Walter and John, went off to France to fight and world were won by
time African Americans were allowed to serve in the military in Sacra Gated unit kind of an update from our Massachusetts. Fifty fourth up a good clean, the nobody to know exactly when Batsy became interested in a flying. It might have been as far back as walks. Hatchie and aeroplanes were, of course, invented in eighteen. Oh two probably made a pretty big impression on most children around then, but it might have also had something to do with the of airplane technology in World war, wine and the advancements that were being made in their technology, their youth at the time, I'm and probably she had an interest in world or one with her brothers away fighting. It definitely seem like aeroplanes were the wave of the future in and she took an interest at some point or another. but regardless of how she got interested by the end of the war, flying had become bessys goal most source. Actually relate a story about how her older brother John, who had just come home from the war, visited her in the barbershop one day kind of started:
hunting her sort of bragging about the women he met in France, saying that they were so beautiful and intelligent, and some of them could even fly planes He regaled her with these stories of female pilots. Bessie supposedly responded, that's it. You just called it for me. So that could have been the moment She knew for she wanted to be a pilot, or maybe she just knew that France was an option for her. They are probably not the reaction, her brother, with expecting from his teething, but either way it was he right around that time. She started to apply to american flight schools, except that she kept on getting rejected from them. Some schools would tell her they. Women shouldn't be flying at all, because it was too risky but ray
very well might have had something to do with it too. There were no black flight instructors. There were no black flights fools of the time, but Bessie did not quit. She did not give up on this on this dream. She had told one of her barbershop patrons Robert Abbot about her dream to fly in the problem. She was having making it a reality and that with a pretty good, I too, to tell your problems too? He was pretty influential. He was the editor of a black weekly newspaper called the Chicago defender. I think that's popped up in in several episodes we ve covered, but one of his biggest goals, woods to quote uplift the race and according to Jaclyn Macleans Profile, Bessie and women with wings abbot, wanted to help her achieve our goals because he thought it would help prove what african Americans could accomplish a mean if you're interested in uplifting the rays, what better way than to sponsor a pilot? Who can literally fly up away again because people can't say you can't
something if you actually show it tonight is the power of all, with the powerful metaphor, to Fort too for what he was trying to do. Flying yes taking flight when Bessie passed on to Abbot what her brother had told her about France. He of course encourage her to pursue flight school there, whose basically like well. If no one in America will take you, you gotta go somewhere else, so at about eight, Twenty seven twenty eight bessie used for savings to start taking fresh classed as so. She could learn the language she also applied for a passport and picked up an extra job at a restaurant, just to say that some more money for school and after applying to a few french flight school, she was finally accepted to the control of Brothers School of aviation.
In France. So abbot did proved to be of a benefactor. True to his word. He helped Bessie secure funds for schools that should cover tuition and in late nineteen, twenty. She headed off to France to start a ten month flight choir, though, for about the first seven months of her training, bethia them took lesson. She learned to fly in French Newport type, eighty two biplane and according to their Macleans, profoundly mentioned during the lessons, a teacher would just sit in the front seat working all the controls and a student pilot like Bothy would have to fit in back see and you couldn't have thoroughly feed instructor from their or even here the instructor because of course, the end and was roaring Phil things to learn to fly feeling the movements of the controls mimicking the instructors motions just really kind of picking it up along the way. Then, on June
Fifteen nineteen twenty one at age, twenty nine Bessie earned her licence from the federal austrian aeronaut teak internet, you now. As we mentioned earlier, she was the first black woman in the world to earn a pilots licence and the FBI license number. Pillar was so highly regarded. It was accepted by every country in the world. So this the licence that you wanted. A vast common finished a programme and returned home to the states that September where she was met by reporters from both black and white newspapers who wanted to interview her so pretty At this point, and while in New York, she was invited to see a Broadway musical within all black cast called shuffle along, she was the guest of honor there in the performers gave her Silver CUP intermission,
She asked have started to form some new, pretty big dreams about advancing the african American causing me now that she had achieved this seemingly insurmountable dream of of flying. She had new goals and she started to think about opening an aviation school for black people and according few Macleans Profile, she said in an interview with the Chicago defender quote: we must have aviators if we are to keep up with the times. I shall never be satisfied until we have men of the race can fly. Do you know you have never lived until you phone but of course to open a school. She we need some cash, and at that moment there really was no way for her to make it in the nineteen. Twenty is, after all, there weren't any commercial airlines to work for, and although worse than pilots who are working for the postal service. They were pretty
It's all right. I mean we ve talked about that in the faint acts up so exactly out he dead working carrying meal and in doing that sort of thing out, we have some exciting news. Yeah, I am while
excited and people will have another opportunity to watch. We cry at art, yeah you set out its so called at its though not a calm situation at all. Our trip to Paris last year was really successful, so we're doing another similar trip this year, but this time a roman Florence, its may fourteenth through twenty first twenty twenty and like last time it is with a company called defined destinations who is playing out this whole trip for us yeah and during the week long trip. We are gonna, see some of the great art that we have talked about on the show many times, including Miguel angel is David. We are going to go to Tuscany, we're gonna visit, say Peters Basilica. We are going to the Sistine Chapel, so it's going to be a fantastic trip, even get the whole list of places that we are going and information about looking at defined destination
dot com scroll down to the roman foreign strip was stuffy, miss than history glass or come over to our social media. We have posts about it there to hay listeners. I wanted to tell you about a new pod from my heart radio called the women hosted by read. It is fascinating and deep dive interview show where rose talks, to change makers in disruptors and she finds out what really drives them. So she will ask each of them what was your first stand and how do you navigate success and failure and really what's the cost of fighting for others, These interviews are really personal and their candid em for those there a little bit crass, but they are always really enlightening. You can listen Can we lessons they will help you navigate your own life and for your own path? The debut season includes women like Valerie, pleads women like Valerie Plain, the former CIA agents, who is now running for Congress and whistleblowers. the attrition Doktor Mona Hannah, a teacher who exposed the flint water crisis and became the centre of
swirling swirling amount of problems and he legendary Buffy, say Marie Sixty songwriter and activist. I have personal interest in this show His I adore rose and executive produce it and I think you're really going to enjoy the way that she gets into these. relations that feel like two friends talking and they an absolute delight, so subscribed to the women Army, the hurt radio app on Apple podcast or wherever you get. Your podcast so Bessie realise she would have to make a living as an entertainer performing an air shows, but she needed we're training to do this because she didn't really learn how to do stunt stirring her first hint in flight school, Arusha performers This time usually did things like looped, loops and barrel roles and having people parachute out of plane. So have you area, nineteen? Twenty two bessie went right back to France to learn some track, though she train, therefore, to love and went to Germany too, to train for ten more weeks, and while she was there,
she was filmed flying over Berlin. She returned to the United States in August nineteen twenty two, old, friend and benefactor Robert Abbot, who still one of her biggest support. Immediately scheduled and air show on long island. That would feature her talents in the show took place labour day that timber third nineteen, twenty two Curtis field and according to infect Libido Britannica. This is the first public fly by an african american woman in America, but the people who show part of plane from for this special occasion, wouldn't allow her to do stunt folk. She's gonna fly around still, though, a huge crowd of people turn out just her in and to see this remarkable feat of african american woman pilot After that she dared another exhibition at Checkerboard field in Chicago and there she get to show off her acrobatic fine techniques, including loops figure, aids and sums.
Fine, tingling depths and dives an audience was really thrill, I mean I think at one point I read an account where one of the move she did with a dive that almost made it look as if the plea we're going out of control so that money is really shocked me? They thought something was going wrong in any kind of at the last. Second, she allowed at the open, and she was. and they were all really thrilled by that. So her stunts earned her the nickname, Queen Bass, daredevil, Aviate tricks and also brave bessie. So Abbot was the one who first started crying her queen vast amounts were that can promote his his investment a little indeed through Bessie it's pretty famous, as you can imagine by this point, and not long after that Chicago show, with all of the exciting stones, the african american seminal film, producing company garden, with her about starring in a movie based on her life and her accomplishment called shadow and sunshine
Bessie initially agreed she find on, but right from the beginning, the script called for her to do In rags and represent this poor, uneducated girl coming to the big city, which of course, hadn't been Herbert situation and all she worked hard to accomplish what she could in Texas in and then made her way to Chicago She didn't like the way that the stock in general, the portrayed black woman, she thought it made people black people in general, look ignorant, though she quit and quit with project really meant she lost the support of the black entertainment community, dropping out suddenly I mean one cannot help but wonder if she had done this movie, what her name be better known today. That's true. I didn't think about that but she still needed money after that. She didn't have the support of the entertainment community, but she still needed some cash to save up for her aviation school. I mean, besides the fact that she just needed for money to live as well
I mean we mentioned before her borrowing planes she still and have a plane of her own. So every time she performed somewhere, she had to rely on somebody else alone, her a plane so best you needed to find some gigs fast. Thought you found a really good one in Oakland California, in early nineteen, twenty three she made a deal with the coasts tyre and rubber company that was based there and they offered to buy her a plain if she would agree to drop ads for them. From a plain during an air show, the show took place February. Fourth, nineteen, twenty three it, didn't exactly go as planned. It seems like it was off to a good start. Bessie was for the first time playing her own plane, which was a Curtis J and for better known as a Jenny. It was a year. Plain, though, she couldn't afford a brand new plane so was left over from World WAR One and wasn't in the best condition. Soon after she took. that day the planes motor stalled and it fell three hundred feet and crashed. Bessie was okay, but she was
really badly injured. She had a broken leg, fractured ribs and internal injuries. But what What be surprised me, the most about this whole story is rather than just being shocked and concerned. The audience, according to Macleans Profile, was really angry that hadn't gone the show that they came to see and they asked for their money back. That is pretty surprising and we knew it thing ok show's over and I'm worried. The pilot need make our released just horror. You know- and I don't know yet concern for another individual hoping for some bear all then and seeing all the tricks they paid for, but with a long road recovery, however, and of course her plain demolish, not to mention no funds anymore, Bessie had to go home to Chicago to recoup, Again there she didn't, let that that back in breaking her leg, keep her down. She told her friends tell them as soon as I can walk, I'm going to fly
about a year later. She made good on that. She was fully recovered and she planned a tour of lecturers and air shows across Texas, which took the Houston, San Antonio Dallas and hurled I'm town of Walks Hatchie and the tourism success, even though Bessie drew some pretty serious lines in the sand along the way, for example, ripe were performing and walked Hatchie Sheila, that black audience members were required to use a separate entrance to the grounds from their white counterparts. So Bessie refuse to fly unless everyone got to use the same entrance through. This was taking a really big risk on her part because she needed the money she needed that gag. But, surprisingly, the event organizers complied with her request, because after all of the show did not take place, they aren't gonna make any money. that either in away again, it reminds me of battle page. I think everything remains serious after fitness met his them his pudding. Is it down on certain issues about how events where segregated bessie
she make enough money, though, off of that taxes, tour to save a little cash and put another down payment on a journey? The plain that she had crashed in originally hoping to to get a better version. This time, After a brief visit to Chicago to end of nineteen, twenty five, she set off again for another tour, this time a tour of the South Eastern which she lectured churches and theatres in schools and both Georgia and Florida, and there Another incident at the Chamber of Commerce Flower Show in Orlando Florida Bessie was supposed perform and then she found out that the event was advertised for whites. Only again, she refused to perform unless blocks were allowed. In. again the organizers relented. I guess when it came down to making money or standing on their questionable principles, money. Why are you so during these south eastern tour?
Bessie also met at win and be men who is the heir to the beam and chewing gum fortune. He helped her pay off the Jenny plan. She started to buy back in Dallas than she plan to use that plane to perform a very special track, a parachute jump, Negro Welfare League Field Day and Jacksonville Florida, though she needed a partner further she a white pilot mechanic named William wills to fly the play we're from Dallas to Jacksonville and to make tool emergency landings along the way, because the plane captain experiencing engine problems again. it was not a new playin, it was the best Bessie could afford and she was having to make them so will manage to get the plane to Jacksonville, and then he worked on the mechanical issue by the morning of April thirtieth nineteen, twenty six, he told Bessie that the plane
the next day. But that's you wanted to take the plane up to fly over the jump, site and kind of get a feel for how things were going to go on the day of just be prepared appeared so they took off and wills was up. France and ITALY so they took off and wills was up France and who would be flying the plane during the actual jump and bessie in the rear, cockpit. She didn't have a seat fastened, because she was only around five foot, three ash inches tall and she wouldn't be able to lean over the side of the plane and see the ground if she was strapped in some kind of defeat. The purpose of going out the first place flew out and they circled the area where the jump was going to take place, and then they rose to about three thousand five hundred feet as they started to head back there travelling long at that elevation at eighty miles per hour and sudden, plain knows: dives at about one thousand feet at once tailspin and then five hundred feet, a completely flipped overthrowing Bessie out of the plane and the Falcon
Her wills meanwhile tried to write the plane, but it crashed about one thousand feet from where common landed, and he too was killed in the crash and an investigation that followed reveal that the acts have been caused by around. That was left in the engine and had gotten all jammed up in the gear, so memorial services were held for com. In both Jacksonville in Orlando and on may fit. Her remains were returned to Chicago the Illinois. Central train station was apparently packed with mourners upon her arrival and at the service that was held for her at Pilgrim Baptist Church in Chicago about ten thousand people showed up to pay. Their respects I gave my name is damaging I've been working as a correspondent, an interviewers since I was thirteen and now
seventeen. I am so honoured to be the youngest person to have our own podcast. I hurt radio pits cause. Let's be railways, Sammy Jane will have in depth and unfiltered conversations with celebrities activists, athletes and influencers we have some incredible guess season, including had meagre Megan trainer. The amazing kasza, Grammy winning producer Phineas Youtube sensation lies Akashi, Grammy nominated singer, songwriter, Julia Michael's, the boy ban sensation. Why don't we and many more will cover topics where curious about topics? My guests are passionate about an topless. Many of us urges too afraid to talk about past of love to what's real. We go there and its fun, pretty crazy and very revealing. Listen to, let's be real with Sammy J on the eyed, her radioactive apathetic gas or wherever. Yet your pact Bessie woman was buried in Lincoln Cemetery at her grave there's. A five foot high monument that has a full,
of her on it all dressed up in her leather flight gear that she preferred and she standing in front of her plain. So you guys can google pictures opportunities actually really beautiful and her out circle or to look at, and it's just need to look at cause. I don't know about it before I, this patent Nita just look at her face. It looks kind of intense calamitous photos, twenties era. Aviation costumes are always pretty clicking. Indeed, but everyone really the braided or paid their respects to Bessie after her death white newspapers at the time when they were counted, the seem to focus more on wills, implying
He was teaching Bessie how to fly, and this is our relation light as it is, and sometimes they didn't even refer to Bessie by name calling her simply the woman, the Chicago defender, though, of course, knew what she truly was and wrote, though, with the crushing of the plane light seized. Her bessie common enough members of the re have been inspired by her courage to carry on in the field of aviation. Whatever is accomplished by members of the race in creation, will stand as a memorial to Missus Coleman. Enlist reminded me a little bit of veal, Tuskegee airman upset, I think Kennison Jane did awhile back because there, of course, the most famous african american aviators, and I guess, and neither of us had heard of of Bessie Common before it. It is interesting to think of her ass of as memorial online to to later aviators yeah. I know a lot of people. Dont know her story. Today I mean compared to Amelia Erhard, who, as we mentioned, was a contemporary of hers. She has done
remembered and not way. That's the Chicago surrender mentioned as an inspiration, especially to others of her race in her gender in the authorities, black entrepreneur, Williams, Powell founded the Bessie Coleman, arrow clubs, to encourage more african Americans to purchase Peyton flying and then seventy seven, a group of female black pilots founded the Bessie Common aviators club. She often has a few tributes back in Chicago in eighteen. Ninety arose at o, Hare Airport was renamed Bessie, common drive and in nineteen ninety two Chicago's mirror declared may Second Bessie Coleman Day so she still remains an inspiration for aviators and even just people who want equality. There is a great quote of her. is that I wanted to share before we finish off this episode. In its decision.
Is the only place. There is no prejudice up there. Everyone is equal. Everyone is free. That is a really great close, and I think it also interesting to consider her not just an inspiration for african american aviators or a women, but just somebody who went out in accomplish things that she raised money for her french lessons and moved abroad found a school that would teach her, which was Learn I mean that's inspirational gender and raise the side yeah and she went through a lot to get there. I mean, I think people tend to get discouraged sometimes when they get off track of what they want to do. Like, oh, I have to work this other jobs. Worked as a laundress and as a manicurist ended all kinds of random things. You know worked in a restaurant and eventually at the age of thirty finally got to when someone is trying to get so. If you,
you want to suggest any other. Similarly inspirational people to earth. You can always suggests topics at history, podcast at discovery. Dot com were also on twitter amidst in history, and we and if you want to learn a little bit more about the topic we discussed today, which was flight, we have an article on our website called what was man's first attempt to flight, and you can find that by searching on our homepage, W W W dot, has to work to talk com, retorted check out our new video podcast stuff from the future joint house. Therefore,
that as we explore the most promising and perplexing possibilities of tomorrow. The house that I have has arrived download it today and I do. I gave my name is damaging. I've been working as a correspondent and interviewers. Since I was thirteen and now seventeen- I am so honoured to be the youngest person to have our own tat, cast an eye her radio, its cause, let's be real with Sammy J in depth and unfiltered conversations with laboratories, activists, athletes and influencers will cover topics where curious about topics. My guests are passionate about an topics. Many of us are just two afraid to talk about. I get past the fluffed
what we go there and its fun pretty crazy and very revealing. Listen to us. We real with Sammy, Jane on the eye, her review up apple podcast or wherever you get. Your podcast just realized that the first letter of every line of this room spells help me. It seems like everyone's acrylic, these days less in the world, with our slightest opinions on our own many possible. I'm Scotch benefits breakup this February, tenth guns, citizen critic, a new podcast, where we predict the critics and review the reviews of your favorite movies, music television, toasters, toiletries in paint, colors, listen to citizens, critic on the eye, heart, radio, an apple pie, guests or wherever you get your bike tests