Despite this, Coleman was determined to become a pilot. But none of the schools she reached out to would accept a Black woman. So she moved to France, where she went to flight school. There, Coleman earned her pilot’s license in 1921.
She returned to the U.S. with a new dream—to open a flight school for Black women. While working toward that goal, she became a barnstormer, a pilot who travels around the country performing dangerous stunts.
“She realized the impact she could have on other people by doing this,” says Lee.
Coleman amazed audiences across the U.S. by doing dangerous tricks like loop-the-loops. She even walked on the wing of a plane while a co-pilot took the controls.
In 1923, Coleman’s plane crashed. She was badly injured, but she didn’t let that stop her.
“Tell them all that as soon as I can walk I’m going to fly!” Coleman wrote in a telegram.