November 20, 1920 After taking a French class from Berlitz, Bessie Coleman set sail for France to learn to fly because no American flight school would accept an African American student. She became the first African American woman to earn a pilot’s license. Back in Chicago, she discovered there were no opportunities for women in commercial aviation. She went back to France for aerobatics training and became a barnstormer, making daring exhibition flights across the US. In 1926, at the age of 34, Coleman’s biplane went into a tailspin during a show. She was not wearing her seatbelt and fell to her death.