Browse Photographs (52 total)

Bessie Coleman, the first African American licensed pilot shown here on the wheel of a Curtiss JN-4 "Jennie" in her custom designed flying suit (circa 1924).

In 1931 the Challenger Air Pilots Association, organized by John C. Robinson (far right), spearheaded the construction of the Robbins, Illinois, airstrip, the first airport built for and by blacks.

This circa-1937 flyer advertised subscriptions to William J. Powell’s journal, Craftsmen of Black Wings. Through his journal, Powell hoped to heighten interest in aviation among blacks.

Heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis (second from left) visits the workshop of the Bessie Coleman Aero Club in Los Angeles. William J. Powell (right) founded the club to promote aviation in the black community.

Willa Brown, pioneer woman pilot and president of the National Airmen's Association of America, succcessfully lobbied for federal funds in 1939 to support the NAA pilot training program. Located in Chicago, this was the first privately-run training…

William J. Powell (right) purchased his first plane, a Curtiss JN-4 "Jennie" for the newly organized Bessie Coleman Aeero Club (circa 1931) and Labor Day the flying club sponsored the first all-black air show in the United States attracting some…

On a visit to the Tuskegee flying school, circa 1940, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt flew with pilot C. Alfred “Chief” Anderson. Roosevelt’s willingness to fly with a black pilot had great symbolic value and brought visibility and support to…

Cornelius R. Coffey established his own flight training school, the Coffey School of Aeronautics, in Chicago.

A course at the Coffey School of Aeronautics in Chicago in 1941 trained blacks in aviation mechanics. The Civilian Pilot Training (CPT) program provided greater opportunities for blacks to participate in aviation.

Willa Beatrice Brown was the first black woman to receive a commission as a lieutenant in the U.S. Civil Air Patrol. She was 31 years old when she received her commission.