4300 Amelia Earhart Lane, Oklahoma City, OK 73159 405-685-9990

Exhibits at the Museum

Bessie Coleman Makes History

Bessie Coleman was inspired to fly after hearing the stories of pilots returning from World War I. Unable to procure flying lessons in the United States due racial discrimination, Bessie saved her money and went to France to learn to fly. She received her license on June 15, 1921; when she returned to the States she had a successful barnstorming career. A early champion of civil rights, she had dreams of starting her own aviation school for the instruction of African American pilots, and she refused to perform at airshows unless audiences were desegregated. On April 30, 1926, Bessie and her mechanic took to the skies. The mechanic was flying that day, but lost control of the plane. Bessie fell from the open cockpit plane and did not survive. Her accomplishments were many and her legacy of being a pioneer in aviation and equal rights for both women and African Americans lives on today.