Bessie’s dream

If you look to the right of this page, under “What Are We All About?” You’ll notice that The Plane Project aims to enhance the image of aviation to underprivileged youths. Underprivileged. Underprivileged. Underprivileged. After pondering this word for about 15 seconds, I googled ‘underprivileged’ and was met with ‘underprivileged – adjective lacking the rights and advantages of other members of society; deprived. ‘

I imagine this is what Oprah’s Aha moment feels like. Girls, women, constantly facing challenges and adversaries to enjoy normal privileges and rights of our society. When it comes to gender incongruity, the world of commercial pilots seems to be one of the most skewed. 97% of all pilots are male. Ninety-seven percent. Let that sink in.

A study conducted by British Airways discovered that among boys, ‘pilot’ was the second most popular career choice. Among girls, it wasn’t even mentioned. Perhaps simply because the field doesn’t fit young girls’ interests or maybe a lack of visible role models? It is a sad reality that, at least for now, it will be a rare flight you take where one of the people flying the plane is a woman.

One woman fought relentlessly to change this. Bessie Coleman. Arguably the world’s most remarkable aviator. Beau Ideal of aviation, a pioneer, a trailblazer & my personal hero. Bessie Coleman is the first black woman to fly a plane and the first to earn her international pilot’s license. She dared to dream, and in her quest, broke down every barrier imaginable. Bessie, was born in Texas, USA in 1892 and after her applications to attend American flight schools were declined, she applied and got accepted to a French Flight School.

She obtained her pilots license in 1920 and a year later returned to the States. Bessie challenged laws that would allow women of colour to learn how to fly. It wasn’t until 1932 that black students were allowed to enter civilian flight schools. Throughout her life, Bessie Coleman resisted society’s restrictions against black people, and against women. Bessie Coleman once famously said “The air is the only place free from prejudices.” Bessie kept pushing the boundaries of the possible and eventually, what may have seemed impossible, became reality. As another remarkable female aviator, Amelia Earhart once said, ““Everyone has ocean’s to fly, if they have the heart to do it. Is it reckless? Maybe. But what do dreams know of boundaries?”

Until next time

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