Today in Transportation History – 1986: A Brazilian Aviation Legend Takes Her Final Flight

Brazilian aviation pioneer Ada Rogato died in São Paulo at the age of 66. Rogato had been born in that Brazilian city in 1920. She was the daughter of immigrants from Italy.
Rogato developed a strong interest in flying at an early age and, with money that she made through such jobs as selling embroideries and handicrafts, she enrolled at the Flying Club of São Paulo. She earned her class C glider pilot’s license in 1935, becoming the first South American woman to achieve that type of certification. After taking more lessons the following year, she became the third licensed female airplane pilot in Brazil.
Rogato subsequently worked as a test pilot for light aircraft built in Brazil. She also flew in various air shows. After taking a skydiving course in 1941, she became Brazil’s first female paratrooper. This achievement resulted in the Brazilian Air Ministry recruiting her to serve as a training instructor at its Technical School of Aviation. Following Brazil’s entry into World War II on the side of the Allies, Rogato flew volunteer missions patrolling the coast in the São Paulo region. This wartime service led the Brazilian Air Force to award her the title of Pilot in Honoris Causa; she was the first woman to receive this designation.
Rogato’s post-war accomplishments included becoming the first Brazilian woman to serve as an agricultural pilot. A large part of her work in this role involved flying crop dusters to eliminate pests that threatened Brazil’s coffee crop. In 1950, Rogato crossed the Andes in a Brazilian-built Paulistinha two-seater plane known as “Brasileirinho” and was awarded an aeronautical merit medal for doing so.
The following year, Rogato set a new record when she flew a U.S.-built Cessna 140 light utility aircraft called “Brasil” from Tierra del Fuego at the southernmost tip of South America’s mainland to Anchorage, Alaska, over the course of six months. This journey, covering a total of 51,064 miles (82,179.5 kms), made history as the longest solo flight up to that time. After reaching Anchorage, Rogato flew north of the Arctic Circle to the Alaska-based Fort Yukon Airport. She then made her way back to Brazil via Canada, the United States, Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Trinidad, Venezuela, and the Guianas.
In 1956, Rogato achieved yet another notable record when she became the first person to fly over the Amazon rainforest. She served as director of the Museum of Aeronautics and Space of São Paul from 1980 to the time of her death. In 2000, the Brazilian Post Office issued a stamp commemorating the 50th anniversary of Rogato’s flight over the Andes.
For more information about Ada Rogato, please check out

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