Born in 1906 in Glasgow, Kentucky, to an African American father and a Native American mother, Willa Brown Chappell went on to get her private pilot’s license on June 22, 1938, becoming the first Black woman in America to do so. In 1940, she co-founded the National Airmen’s Association of America, which was the first Black Aviator group. Chappell and her husband also opened the first flight school owned by Black people. But she wasn’t done, as in 1943, she became the first woman in the U.S. to have both a mechanics (1935) and commercial aviation (1939) licenses.
- Locke, Theresa. “Willa Brown-Chappel: Mother of Black Aviation.” Negro History Bulletin 50, no. 1 (1987): 5.
- Bernstein, Mark. 2019. “How Perry Young Broke Aviation’s Color Barrier.” Smithsonian Air & Space.
- “Willa Brown Chappell | Kentucky Life | KET,” KET – Kentucky Educational Television, YouTube video, 6:49, October 22, 2018.