Chicago’s Very Own: Benjamin Toles

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In honor of Black History Month, we want to introduce you to a man who is carrying on the legacy of an African American trailblazer.

Benjamin Toles opened a state-of-the-art aviation facility in Gary, Indiana, that he named after Bessie Coleman – the first black, female aviator.   In the 1920s she broke racial and gender barriers  becoming the world’s first black woman to earn a pilot’s license.

Toles is carrying on her legacy as the general manager and part-owner of the B. Coleman Aviation complex. It provides things like fuel and maintenance to private jet owners.

Toles grew up in a big, middle class family in Liberia.

As a child, he was fascinated by airplanes. A childhood interest soon became a reality.  He earned his pilot’s license, and became lieutenant.

But political unrest in Liberia forced him to move to America with not much more than the clothes on his back.

Determined to get back into aviation, he got a job at the Gary Jet Center.

Then, in a 2013, B Coleman Aviation opened to the public.

Coleman's grand-niece Gigi was even there to celebrate.

Clients from around the country now descend upon the facility.

It’s a big success for Toles, who was once just a kid in Africa, with a dream.

Benjamin Toles. He’s one of Chicago’s Very Own.

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