HomeNewsArticle Display

Willa Brown worked to incorporate black aviators into military

(Air Force graphic/Sylvia Saab)

(Air Force graphic/Sylvia Saab)

Willa Brown was the first African-American woman to make a career of aviation.

Willa Brown was the first African-American woman to make a career of aviation.

Willa Brown helped create aviation school to help incorporate African-Americans into aviation.

Willa Brown helped create aviation school to incorporate African-Americans into aviation and later into the military.

Willa Brown became the first African-American officer in the Civil Air Patrol.

Willa Brown became the first African-American officer in the Civil Air Patrol.

FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. (AFNS) -- Inspired by the achievements of Bessie Coleman during the early days of aviation, Willa Brown would go on to have an impact on African-American involvement that would lead to the creation of the famed all-African-American "Tuskegee Airmen" combat flying squadrons during World War II.

As a young high school teacher in Gary, Ind., and later as a social worker in Chicago, Willa Brown felt that her talents were being wasted. She sought greater challenges and adventures in life, especially if they could be found outside the limited career fields normally open to African Americans.

She decided to learn to fly, studying with Cornelius R. Coffey, a certified flight instructor and expert aviation mechanic at one of Chicago's racially segregated airports. She earned her private pilot's license in 1938. Later, Brown and Coffey married and established the Coffey School of Aeronautics at Harlem Airport in Chicago, where they trained black pilots and aviation mechanics. Many of those aviators would go on to be an integral part of the famed Tuskegee Airmen during World War II.

Together with Cornelius Coffey and Enoch P. Waters, Willa Brown helped form the National Airmen's Association of America in 1939, whose main goal was to get black aviation cadets into the United States military. As the organization's national secretary and the president of the Chicago branch, Brown became an activist for racial equality.

She continually lobbied the government for integration of black pilots into the segregated Army Air Corps and the federal Civilian Pilot Training Program, the system established by the Civil Aeronautics Authority to provide a pool of civilian pilots for use during national emergencies. Subsequently, when Congress finally voted to allow separate-but-equal participation of blacks in civilian flight training programs, the Coffey School of Aeronautics was chosen for participation in the CPTP.

Brown became the coordinator for the CPTP in Chicago. Later, her flight school was also selected by the U.S. Army to provide black trainees for the Air Corps pilot training program at the Tuskegee Institute.

Willa Brown eventually became the coordinator of war-training service for the Civil Aeronautics Authority and later was a member of the Federal Aviation Administration's Women's Advisory Board. She was the first black female officer in the Civil Air Patrol and the first black woman to hold a commercial pilot's license in the United States.

In 1972, Brown was appointed to the Federal Aviation Administration Women's Advisory Board in recognition of her contributions to aviation.  She passed away on July 18, 1992, at the age of 86.

Engage

Twitter
"Calling search and rescue" @374AirliftWing Airmen participate in a Samurai Readiness Inspection at Combined Arms… https://t.co/16NG8UuD77
Twitter
The two-week exercise is in tandem with the Polish air force near Powidz, Poland. #Partnership #ReadyAF https://t.co/oj2EPRUBSF
Twitter
.@USAF_ACC conducted an experiment known as Agile Flag 21-1 from Oct. 21-29 to test agile combat employment and a n… https://t.co/sZF2HgNUeI
Twitter
The Department of the Air Force will soon conduct focus groups with Total Force Airmen and Space Professionals abou… https://t.co/uPAlbUEYxt
Twitter
RT @AFGlobalStrike: For 50+ years, #MinutemanIII #ICBM fleet has underpinned our strategic force & played critical role in ensuring protect…
Twitter
RT @RealAFOSI: Between Oct. 20 and 21, 2020, Iranian threat actors conducted an information operations campaign by sending emails, masquera…
Twitter
Ready day or night The 8th Fighter Wing at @KunsanAirBase stands ready to conduct counter-air, air interdiction,… https://t.co/8FzXyQPwFo
Twitter
RT @SpaceForceDoD: Vice Chief of Space Operations tests positive for COVID-19 https://t.co/El9DBFkpAg
Twitter
Global reach Approximately 200 Airmen and four B-1B Lancer aircraft with the 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron from… https://t.co/XdxCzteeGx
Twitter
Small business partnerships 🤝 @AFWERX is recommending more than 250 proposals as part of its X20D Small Business… https://t.co/vzVcj7Idfc
Twitter
Rapid strategic delivery 📦 The 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, deployed with @USAFCENT, is responsible for… https://t.co/WxSke8iXnG
Twitter
Fulfilling mission-critical requirements The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office recently granted the #USAF a patent… https://t.co/wtf5K6NITn
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: Looking forward to this dialogue today with Dr. Austin.
Twitter
Accelerating change Airmen from the 366th Fighter Wing and 389th Fighter Squadron participate in Agile Flag 21-1 a… https://t.co/07r8CmEgl9
Twitter
Rolling out new tech The Air Force Civil Engineer Center made its first delivery of a new medium-size explosive or… https://t.co/Gj0PUVeQ6S
Twitter
#InnovativeAF @NASA representatives presented new medical diagnostic technology, the E-Nose Breathalyzer, which wi… https://t.co/mUzpASXPGm
Twitter
Pitstop ⛽️ A C-17 Globemaster pilot checks the alignment of a KC-135 Stratotankers aerial refueling boom. The flyi… https://t.co/ovgj9rh3uV
Twitter
The 23rd Security Forces Squadron at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, will be the first to receive the new system.… https://t.co/UsQNUTdoNE
Twitter
New EOD robots are coming 🤖 Over the next 16-18 months, the Air Force Civil Engineer Center will deliver 333 high… https://t.co/wCmAo5GzDm
Facebook
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Facebook
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Facebook
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
Facebook
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
Facebook
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Facebook
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Facebook
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Facebook
Like Us
Twitter
1,298,716
Follow Us