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Azellia White (1913–2019), pioneering black female pilot


One of first African American women licensed to fly

Pilot Azellia White (1913–2019) helped pave the way for black women in aviation. White trained in Tuskegee where her husband was stationed during World War II as a mechanic with the famed Tuskegee Airmen. She received her pilot’s license on March 26, 1946.

During her time in Alabama, White sometimes flew her niece to Montgomery or Birmingham to go shopping, according to her obituary in Washington Post. Looking back, she said that as an African American in the segregated South, she felt safer traveling through the air than on unfamiliar roads.

In 2018, at the age of 105, White was inducted into the Texas Aviation Hall of Fame alongside Apollo 13 commander James A. Lovell Jr. The science lab at Sterling Aviation High School in Houston is named in honor of White, and she also received a trailblazer award from the Black Pilots of America for her “pioneering spirit in forging a path to the field of aviation.”

We invite you to share condolences for Azellia White in our Guest Book.

Died: September 15, 2019 (Who else died September 15?

Details of death: Died at the age of 106.
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Notable quote: “There weren’t too many black people flying. And I said, ‘I can learn to fly,’ and I learned to fly. It was easy.” —White to in 2018

What they said about her: “She says you just felt free up there, just free. There weren’t any racial barriers or things like that when you’re in the skies.” —White’s great-niece Emeldia Bailey

“A powerful reminder to our students that they can be anything they want to be and achieve anything they want to achieve. No one can stop them.” —Sterling Aviation High School principal Justin Fuentes at the 2017 dedication of the Azellia White science lab

“Very kind, sweet and friendly person” —Guest Book message from a neighbor

“I’ll always remember her smile and kind spirit. My sincerest condolences are extended to the family; may you be comforted by happy memories.” —Guest Book condolence from a friend

Full obituary: Washington Post

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