75 Years of Female Agricultural Pilots
Ada Rogato became the first woman to work as an agricultural pilot in 1948
Born in São Paulo, Brazil, to Italian immigrants, Ada Rogato (1910 – 1986) received a traditional education for girls at the time, learning to paint and play music but she wanted to fly.
She saved money from her domestic work and took flight lessons at the Flying Club of São Paulo. She earned her class “C” glider pilot licence in 1935, and her airplane pilot licence in 1936.
Later, she followed a course in skydiving and earn the first paratrooper licence awarded to a Brazilian. Ada used her skills to participate to aviation shows demonstrating acrobatics and parachute jumps.
In 1940, she began to work the Biological Institute as a clerk. When the authorities decided to air combat the coffee berry borer, a pest that threatened the crops of Brazil’s main export at the time, in 1948, she accepted the challenge and became the first female agricultural pilot.
In 1951, she logged over 51,000 miles on her Cessna 140 flying solo along the entire West side of the Americas up to Anchorage then, eastbound across Southern Canada and Northern United States, before heading back south on the East side through the Caribbeans. In 1960, she became the first woman to land in Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, the southernmost city in the world at that time.
An accomplished parachutist, she held the Brazilian record for 105 jumps.
She retired from service in 1980 as the Sports and Tourism section chief for technical division and served as the director of the Museum of Aeronautics and Space of São Paulo and the President of the Santos Dumont Foundation until her death.