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Chappell, Willa B.
Birth Year : 1906
Death Year : 1992
Willa Brown Chappell was born in Glasgow, KY, the daughter of Hallie Mae and Eric B. Brown. She left Kentucky for Gary, Indiana, and in 1932 graduated from Indiana State Teachers College [now Indiana State University]. She earned her master aviation certificate from Aeronautical University in 1936, her master's degree from Northwestern University in 1938, and her commercial pilot certificate and instructor's rating and radio license from Coffey School of Aeronautics in 1939. Chappell was employed as a school teacher before becoming a pilot: she taught at Roosevelt High School in Gary, Indiana, 1927-1932. In 1939 she was a federal coordinator of civilian pilot training. Chappell settled in Chicago. She was the first African American woman to become licensed as a pilot in the U.S. and the first African American in the Civil Air Patrol. Chappell founded the National Airmen Association of America and trained more than 200 students who became Tuskegee pilots. She and her husband, Cornelius Coffey, owned and operated the first flight school for African Americans. Chappell was also a political activist, in 1945 she organized the Young Republican Club of the Second Ward of Chicago. She was an unsuccessful Republican candidate for Congress in 1946. For more see Willa Brown and Willa Brown Chappell, websites created and maintained by the Aviation Museum of Kentucky; the Willa B. Brown entry in the Chicago Negro Almanac and Reference Book, edited by E. R. Rather; and K. Heise, "Willa Chappell, pioneer Black pilot," Chicago Tribune, 07/21/1992, Chicagoland section, p. 9.

  See photo image of Willa B. Brown [Chappell] at flickr by Black History Album.
Subjects: Aviators, Education and Educators, Migration North, Military & Veterans, Politicians, Politics, Appointments & Elections
Geographic Region: Glasgow, Barren County, Kentucky / Gary, Indiana / Chicago, Illinois

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