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All-Black female American Airlines crew flies from Dallas in honor of Bessie Coleman

Bessie Coleman got her pilot's license in 1921 and was the first Black woman to perform a public flight one year later.

DALLAS — In honor of the 100th anniversary of Bessie Coleman becoming the first Black woman to earn a pilot’s license, American Airlines operated a flight from Dallas to Phoenix with an all-Black female crew. 

Bessie Coleman, who grew up in the Dallas suburb of Waxahachie, broke down barriers in the aviation world and pioneered a path for generations of Black women to come. Her aviation skills drew out nicknames like “Brave Bessie” and “Queen Bess.”

Coleman got her pilot's license in 1921 and, in 1922, performed the first public flight by Black woman. 

To honor the legacy of "Brave Bessie," American Airlines hosted her great niece, Gigi Coleman, on the flight from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX). The flight was operated by an all-Black Female crew — from the pilots and flight attendants to the cargo team members and the aviation maintenance technician, the airline said.

Here is a look at the entire flight crew: 

  • Beth Powell: pilot, captain 737-3
  • Charlene Shortte: pilot, first officer 737-3
  • Cheryl Gaymon: flight attendant
  • Mary Roberson: flight attendant
  • Vanessa Bennett: flight attendant
  • Breana James: flight attendant
  • Sharron Brooks: crew chief
  • Nicole White: crew chief
  • Maya Matthews: fleet service agent
  • Natasha Williams: fleet service agent
  • Alisha Bates: fleet service agent
  • Patricia Milfort: MOD, customer operations
  • Arlene Law customer service coordinator
  • Lynette Daniels Moody: customer service coordinator
  • Lillie Hayes: customer service coordinator
  • Tracy Brown: customer service agent
  • Muju Abdul-Qadir: IAM Control Center coordinator
  • Pamela Calton: TWU Aviation maintenance technician
  • Audrey Van Hook: TWU crew chief ramp
  • Crystal Tochi McDaniel: duty manager, cargo services
  • Sandra Butler: TWU crew chief ramp
  • Jessika Mejia: premium customer services rep
  • Veronda Butler: senior manager, premium guest services operations

Black women have been notably underrepresented in the aviation industry, especially as pilots, representing less than 1% in the commercial airline industry, according to American Airlines. The airline said that through the American Airlines Cadet Academy, it is committed to expanding awareness of and increasing accessibility to the pilot career within diverse communities.

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