Willa Beatrice Brown Chappell



Dublin Core


Willa Beatrice Brown Chappell

Alternative Title

Willa Brown


Brown, Willa, 1906-1992
Pilots and pilotage--United States


A portrait of Willa Beatrice Brown Chappell, which is housed at the Mary McLeod Bethune Foundation, located at 640 Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Boulevard in Daytona Beach, Florida. Chappell was the first African-American woman in the United States to earn a commercial pilots license and the first black female officer in the Civil Air Patrol. Brown was born on January 22, 1906, in Glasgow, Kentucky. She graduated from the Indiana State Teachers College in 1927 and received a Master's of Business Administration from Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois, in 1937. After pursuing careers in education and social work, she later decided to take flying lessons from Cornelius R. Coffey, who she would later marry. The couple co-founded the Coffey School of Aeronautics at Harlem Airport in Chicago.

Brown, Coffey, and Enoch P. Waters also established the National Airmen's Association of America in 1939. The NAAA's main objective was to persuade the United States military to allow black aviation cadets. As an equal rights activist, Coffey lobbied the government for the integration of the Army Air Corps and the Civilian Pilot Training Program. Congress later voted to allow "separate but equal" participation in civilian flight training programs, designating the Coffey School as the facilitator of the African-American program. Brown became the coordinator for the CPTP in Chicago and the Coffey School later provided training for the Tuskegee Airmen. Brown also served the Civil Aeronautics Authority as a coordinator and the Federal Aviation Administration's Women's Advisory Board as a member. She died on July 18, 1992.


Original 8 x 10 inch black and white photographic print: Sun room, image 66, Mary McLeod Bethune Foundation, Daytona Beach, Florida.

Date Created

ca. 1906-1943

Date Modified


Is Format Of

Digital reproduction of original 8 x 10 inch black and white photographic print.

Is Part Of

Mary McLeod Bethune Foundation, Daytona Beach, Florida.
Mary McLeod Bethune Foundation Collection, Daytona Beach Collection, Volusia County Collection, RICHES of Central Florida.




184 KB


8 x 10 inch autographed black and white photographic print




Still Image


Chicago, Illinois

Accrual Method



History Teacher

Rights Holder

Copyright to this resource is held by the Mary McLeod Bethune Foundation and is provided here by RICHES of Central Florida for educational purposes only.


Cepero, Laura

Digital Collection

Source Repository

External Reference

"Brown, Willa B. (1906-1992)." BlackPast.org. http://www.blackpast.org/aah/brown-willa-b-1906-1992.
Hine, Darlene Clark, Elsa Barkley Brown, and Rosalyn Terborg-Penn. Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia. Brooklyn, N.Y.: Carlson Pub, 1993.

Still Image Item Type Metadata

Original Format

1 autographed black and white photographic print

Physical Dimensions

8 x 10 inches


“Willa Beatrice Brown Chappell.” RICHES of Central Florida accessed December 3, 2023, https://richesmi.cah.ucf.edu/omeka/items/show/5166.



Transcribe This Item

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