- Zellia White, a pioneering African-American female pilot who used her position to fight racial segregation, has died at the age of 106
- According to her cousin, Emelda Bailey, Zellia always loved to fly because that was where she felt free without any barrier
- After World War II, she and her husband founded a flight company called Sky Ranch Flying Service which also was into delivery operation
The world has lost a great one as Zellia White, an African-American female pilot who got her license immediately after World War II, died at age 106.
In speaking with CNN, her great-niece, Emelda Bailey, spoke about how Zellia always found great peace and freedom in the air.
"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," she said.
According to Bailey, Zellia died of natural causes on Saturday, September 14 and her funeral held on Saturday, November 21 in a cemetery outside Houston.
Born in June 1913 in Gonzales, Texas, she was always a strong figure in racial discourse. It was said that she would have been a little girl when US first female pilot, Bessie Coleman, earned her license in 1921.
Zellia married in 1936 and would in 1941 move with her husband Hulon “Puppy” White to Tuskeegee, Alabama, where he worked as an aeroplane mechanic.
A visit by the then-first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, to Tuskegee, helped more black people to fly in World War II.
After the war, the African-American woman and her husband and some other airmen created a flight school called Sky Ranch Flying Service. In addition to being a flight school, it also offered a delivery service with a focus to serve the black community during the time racial segregation was high.
Briefly.co.za learnt that the woman pilot also entertained family with her flight adventures when they had meetings as her cousin said: "We would sit and listen to all her stories, about places where she'd flown."
It should be noted that in 2018, she was inducted into the Organisation of Black Aerospace Professionals Hall of Fame and Texas Aviation Hall of Fame.
In one of her interviews before her death, she said: "I just had a good time in life.".
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