American Airlines assembled a unique crew on the ground and in the air for a historic journey from Texas to Arizona on August 8.
The staff at the gate and the technicians were all Black women, as were the pilots and flight attendants on the trip from Dallas-Fort Worth to Phoenix. The flight was organized by American Airlines as a celebration of Bessie Coleman, the first Black woman to be granted a pilot's license in 1921.
According to a press statement issued by American Airlines about the historic journey, "She valiantly broke through barriers within the world of aviation and blazed the route for many to follow."
The Bessie Coleman Aviation All-Stars were invited by American Airlines to travel on the commemorative trip as passengers. In addition to introducing young people to potential professions in aviation, this organization works with schools to "promote the legacy of Bessie Coleman through STEM programming."
The organization's CEO and president, Gigi Coleman, who is also the pioneering pilot's granddaughter, accompanied the group of kids who were able to witness this momentous occasion.
Coleman remarked in a video that was uploaded on the airline's YouTube Channel, "I am appreciative to American Airlines for giving us this opportunity to promote my great aunt's contributions in the realm of aviation."
The organization's national head, Dr. Sheila Chamberlain, stated that the trip symbolized everything Bessie Coleman fought for throughout her life.
Chamberlain said in the video, "Her desire has been realized. In the fields of aviation and aerospace, African American women are succeeding "from the bottom up."
Sadly, because there are so few people in the air who resemble Coleman, planning such a voyage still requires more effort than it should. This trip is being used to raise awareness of the need to increase the number of women of color on the flight deck, according to the airline.
According to American Airlines' news release regarding the commemorative flight, "Black women have been noticeably underrepresented in the aviation sector, especially as pilots, representing less than 1% in the commercial airline industry."
Members of the crew that flew with the Bessie Coleman Aviation All-Stars said it was an honor to serve as role models for the future generation of Black women who are considering their career possibilities.
The flight's pilot, Capt. Beth Powell, was quoted in the YouTube video as saying, "I'm beyond thrilled to be part of the crew where we're motivating young girls, young girls of color, to witness the varied responsibilities that these women play in every area to make this flight possible."
Powell's career has been amazing in and of itself, given that she was born and raised in Jamaica, completed high school at the age of 16, and obtained her pilot's license before turning 21. She started working for American Airlines as a first officer in 2014.
American Airlines deserves credit for being a pioneer in allowing women in the cockpit. Bonnie Tiburzi Caputo, a woman pilot, was hired by the firm in 1973, making it the first major U.S. carrier to do so. Brenda Robinson, who also achieved history with the U.S. Navy, was the organization's first Black woman pilot not until 1992.