Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Willa Brown (Chappell)
Read more about women pilots at Winged Victory: Women in Aviation webzine.
Willa Brown does not have an entry at Wikipedia.
There is an entry on her at Black Wings: http://www.nasm.si.edu/interact/blackwings/hstudent/bio_brown.cfm, featuring an excerpt written about her by Enoch Waters, the city editor of the Chicago Defender, a black newspaper, in 1936. (The founder and editor of this paper in the early 1900s, Robert S. Abbott, also helped Bessie Coleman get the funds to travel to France to become the first African American woman to get a pilot's license.)
There is an entry for her at Women Aviatiors: http://womenaviators.org/WillaBrown.html
From her page there:
Willa was born on January 22, 1906 in Glasgow, Kentucky. She earned a B.A. from Indiana Teachers College (1927) and an M.B.A. from Northwestern University (1937). She enrolled in the Aeronautical University in Chicago and earned a Master Mechanic Certificate. On June 22, 1938, she earned her private pilot's license with a near perfect test score.
Willa was instrumental in establishing the Coffey School of Aeronautics. (In doing so, she fulfilled Bessie Coleman's ambition of a black owned private flight school.) As the president of the Chicago branch of the National Airmen’s Association of America, she led the successful fight to integrate African Americans into the U.S. Army Corps.
Promoted to the rank of Lieutenant, Willa became the first African American officer in the Civil Air Patrol. She was a member of the Federal Aviation Administration's Women's Advisory Board and became the first African American woman to earn a commercial pilot's license (i.e., so that she could fly passenger airplanes). In 1946 she became the first African American woman to run for Congress.
Willa Brown died in July of 1992.