Elizabeth "Bessie" Coleman
Bessie Coleman, born in 1892, was the first female African-American aviator. Unable to gain admission to US flight schools because of her race and gender, she moved to France where, in 1921, she became the first African-American woman to earn an international aviation license. She also became the first American of any gender or ethnicity to do so. In Europe, Coleman learned how to fly and parachute out of a plane and then trained to become a stunt pilot.
Upon returning to the U.S, Coleman became a star on the barnstorming circuit, where she performed aerial stunts. Part of Coleman's aviation career brought her to Oakland, Calif., where in 1923, she landed a job publicizing the Coast Tire and Rubber Company of Oakland and appeared in the company's newspaper ads. In 1926, while her mechanic was piloting her plane, it spun out of control, resulting in both the mechanic's and Coleman's deaths.