Inspirational Aviators like Charles Lindbergh hold a famous connection to the Aviation world, along with a solid foundation of the innerworkings of the developing nations during the 1920s.
He began piloting as a young Barnstormer and eventually enlisted in the Army where he trained as a reserve pilot. In 1927, eager to win a prize of over $10,000, He became famous for completing the nations first Transatlantic solo flight in around 33.5hours.
But what seperates Lindbergh from the rest of his fellow flyers, is that he did much more than just fly planes and set records. He is also famous as a writer, poet and inventor. His stance against the government and the monetary system during the Great Depression stand testament to his contributions not only a pilot, but also as a concerned citizen of the developing United States. Despite any personal controversies, Lindbergh is credited with helping usher in the age of commercial aviation. His innovative and heroic acts continue to inspire others all over the world.
Thanks for reading,
Guion S. Bluford Jr. is historically known as the first African American to ever go to space. Born in Philadelphia on November 22, 1942, Bluford had an impressive career not only for NASA but in the United States Air Force and the aerospace field in general. After attending pilot training and receiving his wings from William’s Air Force Base in 1966, Guion Bluford went on to serve as the pilot of an F-4C Phantom crew in the Vietnam War. He then went on to serve as a key instructor in the T-38 – the first supersonic training jet to enter service. In his career, Bluford flew as the pilot in command of many other aircraft, notably the F-5A/B, the Lockheed U-2 spy plane, and the F-15 Eagle. Bluford was selected to be an astronaut in 1979, chosen out of over 1000 other candidates.
On August 30th, 1983, Bluford made history in becoming the first African American to journey to space (Note: While Bluford is in fact the first African American to go to space, the first person of African descendance to go space was Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez – a Cuban cosmonaut). Bluford made the journey aboard the Challenger Space Shuttle on STS-8. On this mission, Bluford and the rest of the STS-8 crew completed a number of tasks such as launching the Indian National Satellite, performing multiple experiments, collecting biophysical data, and operating the Canadian SRMS “Canadarm”. STS-8 completed 98 orbits in 145 hours before returning to Earth on September 5, 1983.
Bluford went on to complete 3 other flights aboard the STS bringing his mission total to 4 spaceflights. He retired from NASA and the USAF in July 1993. Bluford is currently the acting president of Aerospace Technology, based in Cleveland, OH. And in 2010, Guion S. Bluford Jr. was inducted to the United States Astronaut Hall of Fame.
Amelia Earhart was born on July 24, 1897, in Atchison, Kansas. She opposed traditional stereotypical gender roles since she was a kid. She played basketball and football. She also enjoyed catching frogs and bugs. Amelia went to Ogontz School located in Pennsylvania after graduating high school but then started working for Red Cross as nurse’s aid in Toronto, Canada during World War I. She moved back to the United States after the war and went to Columbia University located in New York to study medicine. Amelia and her father went to see the air show in California, and she rode a plane for the first time. She realized “this is what I have to do”. She begins flight training at the beginning of the year of 1921. Amelia worked really hard to pay for the training costs, and also got her own airplane and named “the Canvy”.
Amelia has many aviation records. In 1922, she converted the first female pilot to fly solo above 14,000 ft. ten years later, she became the first women to fly over the Atlantic Ocean by solo and was awarded for “heroism or remarkable accomplishment while engaging in an aerial flight”. She also became the first women to fly solo across the U.S. without any stops, and solo flight to the U.S. region from Hawaii. In addition, Amelia was the first administrator of the Ninety-Nines (global alignment) of licensed pilots, which now symbolizes female pilots from 44 nations.
On June 1, 1937, Amelia and her navigator took off from Miami to become the first woman to fly around the world. All the flight went well until July 2. They departed from Lae Papua New Guinea to get to Howland Island, which is located on the Pacific Ocean, yet they disappeared during the flight. The U.S. government called for 4 million dollars to search them, however, they still do not where they crashed. Many investigators are considering that they did not have enough fuel.
In 1921, a woman named Bessie Coleman, also often referred to as “Queen Bess” became the first Native American female pilot. In addition to this, Coleman became the first African American pilot of either genders, as well as the first to perform a public flight in 1922. Before these amazing achievements, Coleman lived a tough life. She worked day and night at numerous jobs in order to gather up enough money to pay for an education. Unfortunately, even after all her hard work, her saving did not make her enough money to finish any more than one year at a university. After having no choice but to drop out, she ended up working at a nail salon near her brothers’ home in Chicago. It was Coleman’s brother who sparked her drive to become a pilot when he teased her about her lack of rights in America when women in France were allowed to fly planes. She began applying to as many flight schools as she could, in hopes of being accepted to at least one. After being denied from numerous schools in the United States simply because of her race and gender, Coleman was accepted into the Caudron Brothers’ School of Aviation in France, which is where she earned her pilot’s license in 1921. From this moment on, Coleman decided that her goal was to encourage women and African Americans to strive for their dreams no matter what.
She performed for crowds all across the United States and refused to perform unless there was no segregation. Because of this, not only was she famous for her flying tricks, but also for standing so firmly in her beliefs. In 1923, Coleman survived a crash due to engine failure. However, this accident did not stop her, as she resumed her performances just a year later. Unfortunately, she was in another accident, but this time wasn’t so lucky. While instructing a student, a lose wrench got lodged into the engine of the plane, causing the student pilot to lose control and flip the airplane. Coleman fell from the open top of the plane to her death. This accident was extremely heartbreaking for the thousands of people who admired her, but Queen Bess will live on forever to inspire women of all races.
In 1922 Bessie Coleman became the first African American woman to receive her pilot license. She did not earn her certification here in America though, because flight schools repeatedly denied to train her due to her race and gender. Bessie took it upon herself to overcome this by learning french and then traveling across the world to receive her training in France. The amazing part of this feat was that Bessie earned her license in just 7 months which is very quick. She quickly became specialized in stunt flying and parachuting. When she returned back to the US in 1922 she became the first African American woman to fly publicly. Unfortunately Bessie was taken very shortly after her career started, when in 1926 she was killed in an accident practicing a stunt for one of her shows. She was only 34 years old.
While Bessie’s career was short-lived, she still did a ton for the aviation industry. Defying the odds and getting her license despite the trouble she experienced, and then going on to performing stunts and parachuting skills for crowds all across the country inspired not only women but other African Americans too to take up a career in aviation, not only broadening our own industry, but advancing the Civil Rights Movement as well. I think its amazing that someone could train only 7 months and then quickly transition into doing stunts on such a rudimentary aircraft. She is a big inspiration to me after reading her story, as I had never heard of her before today.
Margaret Gee served in the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) as one of only two Chinese Americans to serve in World War II. Gee originally started out as a draftsman and a welder to save up money to learn how to fly. She looked up to Amelia Earhart and Charles Lindbergh and saw them as her inspiration to aviation. She received only 50 hours of flight experience before applying to WASP. There were more than 25,000 pilots applying to WASP at that time and she was fortunate enough to be one of the 1,074 pilots who were chosen. There she received the same training that was given to the men in the airforce and she used her experience to train men for combat. Gee mainly flew planes for gunnery training and was able to copilot a B17. She retired from service in 1944 and was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2009.
Amy Johnson was one of the first women pilots back in the 1930s, and she rose to fame while setting many flying records. One of her many accomplishments included qualifying to be a British-trained woman ground engineer, and she succeeded becoming the first and only women G.E. in the world at that time. Early in 1930, Johnson wanted to fly solo from Croydon, London to Darwin, Australia and beat Bert Hinkler’s record of 16 days. She completed the flight and became the first women to fly alone to Australia, but her efforts to beat Hinkler’s record failed because it took her 19 days to travel the 11,000 miles. In 1931 and 1932, Johnson set a record for flying from England and Japan with Jack Humphreys and flew from England to Capetown alone. In 1936 she flew solo from England to Capetown beating her own record she had set in 1932. Johnson and her husband, Jim Mollison, flew nonstop from South Wales to the United States in 1933, and they set another time record while flying from England to India. Johnson joined the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) during World War II in 1939 where she ferried aircraft from factory airstrips to RAF bases. On January 5th, 1941, during a routine ATA flight, Amy Johnson crashed and drowned into the Thames estuary. Her death was an unexpected tragedy, but Britain’s most famous woman pilot’s legacy is carried on through the Amy Johnson Memorial Trust Scholarship which is given out to help women pilots further their careers.
Willa Brown was born in Glasgow, Kentucky in 1906, only three years after the Wright Brothers took to the air for the first time. She would graduate from high school in 1923 and go on to get her teaching degree at Indiana State Teachers College. After graduating she became the youngest high school teacher in the Gary, Indiana school system.
Drawing inspiration from Bessie Coleman, Brown would go on to start her flight lessons in 1934 at the Chicago Aeronautical University. She also did studies at Harlem Field in Chicago which was racially segregated with Cornelius R. Coffey, who was the first African American to establish an aeronautical school in the United States and future husband.
In 1935 Brown received her master mechanics certificate and joined two separate organizations, the Challenger Air Pilot’s Association and the Chicago Girl’s Flight Club. IN 1937 she would become the first African American woman to be licensed as a private pilot in the United States.
The Coffey School which she created along with her husband was the school the provided the aviators for the Tuskegee Airmen, training over 200 of them. She would go on to be a board member of the FAA’s Women’s Advisory Board and after her death would be inducted into the Aviation Musem of Kentucky’s Hall of Fame.
Bessie Coleman was born on 26 January 1892 in Atlanta, Texas. She is one of the well-known pioneers of women in the Aviation world. Her childhood was spent in a small house while taking care of her younger sisters. She also helped her family in the fields at the time of cotton harvesting. She was a determined, hardworking and capable woman whose primary focus was to achieve her dream of becoming a pilot. Moreover, she faced various problems in form of financial hardship while attending the college at Langston University. She was the first African American woman to hold an International pilot license. However, the training of Coleman took place in France as at that time no white pilot was willing to teach her. Irrespective of the discrimination and struggle she faced being an African American, she was motivated and wanted to achieve her goal of performing air shows. She was a down to earth person and knew the pain of not getting equal opportunity and treatment to the blacks in United States. After successfully achieving her dream and becoming immortal in the world of Aviation, she was asked by the reporters about the future goal she wish to accomplish. She stated of introducing aviation to her race and make the aviation world diverse by giving equal opportunities to everyone. She also had plans of opening an aviation school where aviators of any race can come and learn to fly further expanding the resource. Unfortunately, Coleman was tragically killed while rehearsing for an aerial show before she could do the planned.