HistoryInventors

Cornelius R. Coffey

Cornelius R. Coffey was an African-American inventor and engineer. He was born on August 5, 1913, in Tullahassee, Oklahoma, and passed away on December 26, 1994. Coffey is best known for his contributions to the field of aviation. In the 1930s, he became one of the first African-American aircraft mechanics in the United States. He worked as a mechanic and flight instructor, breaking racial barriers in the aviation industry at a time when segregation was prevalent.

The CPTP offered blacks flight training.

Coffey’s most significant invention was the “Coffeyville Glide,” an aviation instrument that helped pilots make more accurate landings. The device, patented in 1958, provided pilots with important information about the aircraft’s position and descent rate during landing, improving safety and precision. His invention was particularly valuable for pilots operating in poor weather conditions or unfamiliar landing fields.

Aside from his inventions, Coffey was involved in promoting aviation education and opportunities for African Americans. He co-founded the Coffey School of Aeronautics in Chicago in the 1940s. The school provided aviation training to African-American students who faced discrimination in other institutions. Coffey also played a role in training Tuskegee Airmen, the first African-American military aviators in the United States.

Cornelius R. Coffey’s contributions to aviation and his efforts to break down racial barriers have had a lasting impact. His inventions and dedication to promoting aviation opportunities for African Americans paved the way for future generations of minority pilots and engineers.

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