Known to her adoring public as “Queen Bess,” this African American woman was the world’s first black female pilot and the first woman to receive an international pilot’s license.
“Queen Bess” could not gain admittance to an American flying school because of her race, so she attempted to get her aviator’s license in another country. Influenced by a black American pilot, Eugene Jacques Bullard, who flew with the French in World War I, she learned French and went to Europe with a Red Cross unit attached to a French flying squadron. She persuaded French pilots to give her instruction and in 1921 earned a pilot’s license from the Federation Aeronautique Internationale.
“Queen Bess” returned to the United States in 1922 and was working to establish an American flight school for blacks. To gain support for the school, she traveled across the country giving lectures and flying demonstrations. Unfortunately, “Queen Bess” died without accomplishing her goal when she was hurled from her plane during a flying exhibition in Jacksonville, Florida, on April 30, 1926.
Q: What was her real name?