Bessie Coleman Timeline
Timeline Description: Bessie Coleman was the first African-American woman to earn her pilot's license. She fought hard and worked harder. This is a timeline of her life.

Date Event
January 26, 1892 Bessie Coleman is born

Bessie was born in Atlanta, Texas to a poor black family. She grew up in a very racist community.
1905 Bessie leaves school to help her mother

Bessie worked hard and saved her money to pay for industrial college, but her mother needed her help at home. Bessie gave up her schooling to help at home.
1915 Bessie moves to Chicago for a better life

Bessie moved to Chicago, hoping for less racism and a better life with her brother. She became a manicurist, where she met many rich black people.
1918 Her brother tells tales of flying women

Bessie's brothers told her stories of French women who could fly airplanes, still a new invention. Bessie dreamed of flying, but no school would take her because she was black and a woman.
1920 A friend helps her go to France

Bessie had met Robert Abbot during her work as a manicurist. He was a wealthy black man, and he helped her go to France to attend aviation school there.
1921 Bessie returns to America a graduate

Bessie returned to New York with her pilot's license. She was celebrated as a pioneer.
1922 She furthers her dreams of flying

Bessie returned to Europe to train as a stunt flyer so that she could make a living flying airplanes.
September 1922 Betsy is praised for her skills

When Bessie returned to America she flew in an air show and she was called "the world's greatest woman flyer."
1923 Bessie's flight takes a nose dive

Bessie finally earned enough money to buy her own airplane. However, she crashed it within a few days, suffering many broken bones.
1924 She buys a second airplane

She finally saved enough money to buy a second airplane, and this one did well.
1926 Bessie Coleman dies

Bessie died in April of 1926 while preparing for a stunt flight. Every year, pilots fly over her grave and throw flowers from the sky.
1975 The Bessie Aviators

The Bessie Aviators is an organization that was founded by women pilots in Bessie's honor. It is open to women pilots of any race.
1990 More honors for Bessie

Bessie Coleman was honored by several airports, including Chicago's O'Hare and St. Louis' Lambert Airport.
1995 Bessie gets her own US postal stamp

The United States Postal Service issued a Bessie Coleman stamp in honor of the great pilot.