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Honoring Pilot Tammie Shults, Cornelius Coffey & Bessie Coleman w/Philip Merrill

  • Broadcast in Education
The Gist of Freedom

The Gist of Freedom


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Join Philip Merrill, founder of Nanny Jack Co. as we honor pilot Tammie Jo Shults, Cornelius Coffey and Bessie Coleman!

Tammie Jo Shults is the pilot who bravely flew Southwest Flight 1380 to safety after part of its left engine ripped off, damaging a window and nearly sucking a woman out of the plane. The flight was en route to Dallas Love airport from New York City, and had to make an emergency landing in Philadelphia. Shults, 56, kept her cool during an incredibly intense situation, audio from her conversation with air traffic controllers reveals, while many passengers posted on social media that they were scared these were their last moments. She, with the help of the co-pilot and the rest of the crew, landed the plane safely.



Cornelius Coffey (September 6, 1903 - March 2, 1994)

In 1938, Coffey established one of the first African American-owned and certified flight schools in America. The Coffey School of Aeronautics was located at Harlem Airport in Oaklawn, Illinois, a Chicago suburb. He also invented a carburetor heater to prevent icing, and a variation of it is still being used.

Coffey recruited Clyde Hampton, Willa Brown -- a former student who later became his wife -- and other pioneer black pilots as instructors. As a consequence, Chicago was considered the leading city for black pilot training prior to World War II. Many of the original Tuskegee Airmen got their initial training at the Coffey school.

In 1939, Coffey, along with Willa Brown, a member of the Civil Air Patrol, and Enoch P. Waters formed the National Airmen’s Association of America. The main goal of this club was to expose African Americans to the field of aviation.