导航

Bessie Coleman

所属教程:People in America 更新:02-16
00:00/00:00
点击单词,可查看发音和词义哦。

VOICE 1:

I'm Shirley Griffith

VOICE 2:

And I'm Ray Freeman with the VOA Special English program, Peoplein America. Today we tell about Bessie Coleman, the firstAfrican-American woman pilot.

Graphic Image
Graphic Image

((Theme))

VOICE 1:

Bessie Coleman was born in Atlanta, Texas, in theeighteen-nineties. She was the sixth of nine children. Her motherwas African American. Her father was part African-American and partAmerican Indian. Her family was poor. Bessie had to walk four milesto go to school. When she was nine years old, her father left thefamily to search in Oklahoma for the territory of his Indianancestors.

In Texas then, as in most areas of the American South, blackswere treated unfairly. They lived separately from white people andestablished their own religious, business and social traditions.Bessie was proud of her race. She learned that from her hard-workingand religious mother.

VOICE 2:

Bessie had to pick cotton and wash clothes to help earn money forher family. She was able to save a little money and went to collegein the state of Oklahoma. She was in college only a year. She had toleave because she did not have enough money to complete her studies.But during that year, she learned about flying from reading aboutthe first flight of the Wright Brothers and the first American womanpilot, Harriet Quimby. Bessie often thought about what it would feellike to fly like a bird.

VOICE 1:

Bessie Coleman moved to Chicago. There, she learned to makepeople's hands look beautiful. She was good at it, but she wanted todo something more important. She decided she was going to learn howto fly airplanes.

She soon found this to be almost impossible. What flight schoolwould admit a black woman. She found that apparently there were nonein the United States. Bessie learned that she would have more of achance in Europe. She began to study French at a language school inChicago. She also took a higher-paying job supervising a publiceating place so she could save money.

((Music Bridge))

VOICE 2:

Soon after the end of World War One, Bessie left for France. Sheattended the famous flight school, Ecole d'Aviation des FreresCaudron, in the town of Le Crotoy in northern France. She learned tofly in a plane that had two sets of wings, one over the other. Shecompleted seven months of flight training.

Bessie earned her international permit to fly innineteen-twenty-one from the Federation Aeronautique Internationalein France. She became the first black woman ever to earn aninternational pilot's license.

Graphic Image
Graphic Image

VOICE 1:

Bessie returned to Chicago. She was the only black female pilotin the United States. So her story became popular inAfrican-American newspapers. She was asked by the Dallas Expressnewspaper why she wanted to fly. She said that women and blacks musthave flyers if they are to keep up with the times. She added, "Doyou know you have never lived until you have flown?"

Bessie soon learned that it was difficult for anyone to earnenough as a pilot to live. She knew she would have to improve herflying skills and learn to do more tricks in the air if she wantedto succeed. There still was no one willing to teach her in Chicago.So, she returned to Europe in nineteen-twenty-two. She completedabout four more months of flight training with French and Germanpilots.

VOICE 2:

Bessie returned to New York where she gave her first publicperformance in the United States on September third. A large crowdof people gathered to watch her. She rolled the plane. And shestopped the engine and then started it again just before the planehit the ground. The crowd loved her performance, as did other crowdsas she performed in towns and cities across the country.

Bessie Coleman had proved she could fly. Yet she wanted to domore. She hoped to establish a school for black pilots in the UnitedStates. She knew she needed a plane of her own. She traveled to LosAngeles, California, where she sought the support of a company thatsold tires. The company helped her buy a Curtiss JN4 airplane,commonly called a Jenny. In return, she was to represent the companyat public events.

VOICE 1:

Bessie Coleman organized an air show in Los Angeles. But thejenny's engine stopped soon after take-off, and the plane crashed tothe ground. Bessie suffered a broken leg and other injuries. Sheregretted the accident and felt she had disappointed her supporters.She sent a message: "tell them all that as soon as I can walk I'mgoing to fly!"

Bessie returned to Chicago where she continued her plan to open aflying school. She had very little money, no job and no plane, yetshe opened an office in Chicago. She soon found it was impossible tokeep the office open without more financial support. So she decidedto return to flying.

VOICE 2:

Early in nineteen-twenty-five, Bessie Coleman traveled to herhome state of Texas. The former cotton picker and beauty techniciannow was the only licensed black woman pilot in the world. She couldspeak French. And she was an international traveler.

((music Bridge))

VOICE 1:

To earn money, Bessie Coleman gave speeches and showed films ofher flights in churches, theaters and at local all-black publicschools. She organized more air shows. She soon had enough money topay for some of the cost of a plane of her own, another old CurtissJenny. She continued her speeches and air shows in the state ofGeorgia, then in Florida. She soon hoped to have enough money toopen her school.

In Florida, Bessie met Edwin Beeman, whose father was the head ofa huge chewing gum company. Mr. Beeman gave Bessie the money to makethe final payment on her plane in Dallas. Bessie made plans to haveit flown to her in Jacksonville. A young white pilot, William Wills,made the trip. But the old Jenny had problems. William had to maketwo stops during the short flight to repair the plane. Local pilotswho examined the plane were surprised he had been able to fly it sofar.

VOICE 2:

On April thirtieth, nineteen-twenty-six, Bessie was preparing foran air show in which she would star. She agreed to make the flightwith William Wills. He flew the plane so Bessie could clearly seethe field she would fly over.

She did not use any safety devices, such as a seat belt orparachute. They would have prevented her from leaning over to seeall of the field. During the flight, the plane's controls becamestuck. The plane turned over in the air. Nothing was holding Bessiein. She fell more than a kilometer to her death. William had worn aseat belt. But he also died when the plane crashed.

Officials later found the cause of the accident. A tool had slidinto the controls of the plane. Experts said that the accident neverwould have happened if William and Bessie had been flying a newerplane.

VOICE 1:

Throughout her life, Bessie Coleman had resisted society'srestrictions against blacks and women. She believed that the air isthe only place where everyone is free. She wanted to teach otherblacks about that special environment.

It took some time until her wish was fulfilled. It was not untilnineteen-thirty-nine that black students were permitted to entercivilian flight schools in the United States. It was not until theSecond World War that black male pilots were sent into battle. And,it was not until nineteen-eighty that the first black womencompleted military pilot training in the United States.

VOICE 2:

Bessie Coleman did not live to establish her own flying school.But she had said that if she could create the minimum of her plansand desires, she would have no regrets. She had accepted the dangersof her job because she loved flying.

Her influence continues today. In nineteen-ninety-two, theChicago City Council passed a resolution praising her. It said,"Bessie Coleman continues to inspire untold thousands, even millionsof young persons with her sense of adventure, her positive attitudeand her determination to succeed. "

In his nineteen-thirty-four book, "Black Wings," LieutenantWilliam Powell said, "Because of Bessie Coleman, we have overcomethat which was much worse than racial barriers. We have overcome thebarriers within ourselves and dared to dream."

((Theme))

VOICE 1:

This Special English program was written by Vivian Bournazian.I'm Shirley Griffith.

VOICE 2:

And I'm Ray Freeman. Join us again next week for another Peoplein America program on the Voice of America.

受欢迎的教程

下载听力课堂手机客户端
随时随地练听力!(可离线学英语)