A Woman to Know: Willa Brown Chappell
|Julia Carpenter||Jun 21, 2016|
She had been training black pilots since the late 1930s ... She was very prominent in the field. — Walter Hill, Jr.
(image via Wikimedia Commons)
When she first began taking flight classes in 1936, Willa Brown knew she had a busy decade ahead of her. The next 10 years saw a world war, the integration of the military, an increase in national energy around civil and gender rights — and amid those events, Willa was netting achievement after achievement of her own.
In 1937, she became the first African American woman to earn her pilots license in the United States (pioneer Bessie Coleman had had to jump through multiple hoops — and French classes — to get her own pilots license overseas). In 1941, Willa was the first African American officer admitted to the Civil Air Patrol. In 1942, she founded an air school to train other African Americans to fly, including future squads of Tuskegee Airmen. In 1943, she became the first American woman to hold both a pilots license and an air mechanic license. In 1946, she ran for Congress, the first African American woman to do so.
Add to your library list:
Great Women in Aviation: Willa Brown Chappell (Henry M. Holden)
Distinguished African Americans in Aviation and Space Science (Betty Kaplan Gubert, Miriam Sawyer and Caroline M. Fannan)
The American Aviation Experience (Tim Brady)
Willa Brown: Pioneers of Flight (Smithsonian)
Willa B. Brown (Black Past)
Willa Beatrice Brown Chappell (Aviation Magazine)
Women in Aviation: Willa Brown (The Ninety-Nines)
Chicago and the Tuskegee Airmen (Chicago Tribune)
Willa Brown was an aviation pioneer (African American Registry)
Willa Brown in flight suit (Black Wings)
8 famous female aviators: Willa Brown (Mother Nature Network)
Willa Brown: An American Aviator (Severo Perez)
** Send your own recommendations for women to know! Reply to this newsletter with your lady and she could be featured in an upcoming edition. You can browse the archive here. **