OKLAHOMA CITY (OBV) – The Oklahoma Department of Aerospace and Aeronautics will partner with the Bessie Coleman Aviation All-Star Program to launch an after-school aviation program for sixth and seventh graders enrolled at select schools.
The Aerospace Commission approved a plan to partner with the Bessie Coleman Aviation All-Star Program to implement the youth aviation initiative.
Sixth and seventh graders from Weatherford Public Schools, Pryor Public Schools, and Springdale Elementary of the Tulsa Public Schools can participate in the program, according to an Oklahoma Aerospace and Aeronautics news release.
Students will learn about aerospace careers and participate in hands-on aviation projects that are designed to generate interest in aerospace and aeronautics while celebrating the heritage of Bessie Coleman, an aviation legend who was the first Black woman to hold a pilot license. This will be the first such program in the state’s history.
“Aerospace is Oklahoma’s fastest growing industry, and it’s important we provide as many educational opportunities as possible, so our students can learn about the incredible career opportunities available in the various aviation fields right here in our state. The earlier young people are exposed to the world of aeronautics, the more likely they are to take STEM-related classes and gain the tools and knowledge needed to successfully pursue a career in this exciting industry,” said Sen. Adam Pugh, R-Edmond, who serves as chair of the 59th Legislative AERO Caucus and Senate Education Committee. “As a former aviator, I’m thrilled this unique after-school aviation program will now be offered in Oklahoma and look forward to hearing how it opens students’ minds to the endless world of possibilities in the aerospace industry.”
Participating students will be introduced digitally to Coleman’s great-niece, Gigi Coleman-Brooms, president of the Chicago-based aviation education 501 (c)3 and a actor-historian of the Bessie Coleman aviation story. She will reenact stories from her great aunt’s early life.
The program will provide students a range of educational aviation experiences, including meeting professional pilots, building airplanes, interacting with military aviation professionals and learning about commercial flight, space travel, advanced air mobility and drone operations.
Program educators will follow a curriculum developed by the Bessie Coleman Aviation All-Star Program and the Department of Aerospace and Aeronautics.
The Bessie Coleman Aviation All-Stars Program promotes STEM (science, technology engineering, and math), teaches the theory of flight (aeronautics) and introduces various careers, pioneers and inventors in aviation. It is a national 501(c)(3) non-profit organization where their work is primarily funded by grants and individual donations.
“We have enjoyed an amazing relationship with the Bessie Coleman Aviation All-Stars Program. Gigi accepted the 2022 Oklahoma Women in Aviation and Aerospace Day Woman of the Year award, and our partnership has created this unique aero-education opportunity that will benefit Oklahoma students in communities across the state,” said Grayson Ardies, executive director of the Department of Aerospace and Aeronautics.
Bessie Coleman died on April 30, 2026. The program seeks to honor the 100th anniversary of her death and keep her legacy alive by expanding aviation programs across the nation and reaching as many students as possible.
“Aunt Bessie would be proud of the work we are doing in her honor and legacy. Speaking at schools and churches, she encouraged African Americans’ interest in aviation. She also raised money to found a school to train black aviators. One hundred years later, we are continuing her mission and we are excited to bring the state of Oklahoma into our aeronautical family,” said Coleman-Brooms.