Willa Brown was the first African American female officer in the Civil Air Patrol and the first African American woman to hold a commercial pilot's license in the United States. Willa Brown would go on to have an impact on African American involvement that would lead to the creation of the famed all-African American "Tuskegee Airmen" combat flying squadrons during World War II.
Then-Maj. Shawna Kimbrell, the first Air Force black female fighter pilot, poses for a photograph next to an F-16 in 2012. (Air Force photograph)
The United States Air Force’s first female African American fighter pilot is Lt. Col. Shawna Rochelle Kimbrell.
Lt. Col. Shawna Rochelle Kimbrell joined the Civil Air Patrol, worked at air shows, had her first flying lesson at 14, and earned her private pilot’s license. Eventually, she was accepted into the Air Force Academy.
Col. Nicole Margaret Malachowski is retired from the United States Air Force and was the first female pilot selected to fly as part of the USAF Air Demonstration Squadron, known as the Thunderbirds. Col. Malachowski was a Civil Air Patrol cadet before entering the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1992. Her first public performance with the Thunderbirds was in March 2006.