Ada Rogato

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Ada Rogato
In 1936.
Born(1910-12-22)22 December 1910
São Paulo, Brazil
Died15 November 1986(1986-11-15) (aged 75)
São Paulo, Brazil
Other namesAda Rogato
Years active1935-1986
Known forFirst woman glider pilot and first woman paratrooper of Brazil. Numerous flight records.

Ada Rogato (22 December 1910 – 15 November 1986) was a pioneering woman aviator from Brazil. She broke five records, becoming the first South American woman to earn a glider pilot's license and the first Brazilian woman to earn paratrooper certification. She broke the world record for the longest solo flight, was the first to fly across all three of the Americas and held the Brazilian record for the number of parachute jumps. She was also Brazil's first woman agricultural pilot, flying crop dusters for the Biological Institute to eliminate pests which were destroying the country's coffee crop.

Early life[edit]

Ada Rogato[Notes 1] was born on 22 December 1910 in São Paulo, Brazil to Maria Rosa (née Greco) and Guglielmo Rogato. Her parents were immigrants from San Marco Argentano, Italy.[5] Her education was typical for girls of her era, minimal schooling, learning painting and taking piano lessons. From a young age, Rogato wanted to learn to fly, but when her parents separated, she had to help her mother by doing domestic work and selling embroideries and handicrafts to make ends meet. Saving her earnings, she was able to secure enough money to take flying classes at the Flying Club of São Paulo and earn her class "C" glider pilot's license in 1935,[6][7] becoming the first Brazilian[8] and first South American woman glider pilot.[9][1]

In 1936, Rogato took additional lessons and passed her testing to become an airplane pilot,[8][2] flying various types of American-made planes, as well as Brazilian-made planes like the Muniz M-7, Muniz M-9, among others.[7] She was the third licensed airplane pilot of Brazil,[8] following Teresa De Marzo[10] and Anésia Pinheiro Machado.[11] She flew as a test pilot for light aircraft built in Brazil[7] and begin flying in air shows. Needing to earn a living, she took a typing course and applied to enter the civil service.[8]


Ada Rogato's Cessna 140, at the Museu da TAM in São Carlos, Brazil

In 1940, Rogato began working as a secretary at the Biological Institute, replacing the previous temporary secretary. She took a course on library science to improve her skill and asked to be allowed leave to continue her participation in "Wing Week" activities.[1] The following year, Rogato took a skydiving course, gaining the first Brazilian paratrooper certification[6] and bought a Paulistinha two-seater airplane.[8] Upon receipt of her paratrooper certification, the Aeronautics Ministry asked for Rogato to be allowed a three-month leave to offer training at the Technical School of Aviation.[1] During World War II, she performed volunteer missions, patrolling the Litoral Paulista (coast of São Paulo). For her service, she became the first woman to receive the title of Pilot in Honoris Causa by the Brazilian Air Force.[12] In 1942, Rogato performed a daring night parachute jump. She was the only woman and was accompanied by five men, who jumped from a Focke-Wulf plane into the bay off the coast of Rio de Janeiro. The president, Getúlio Vargas was on hand to witness the jump and the parachutists rescue by the two boats waiting at the ready.[7]

When Rogato returned to the Biological Institute, she was assigned to the Animal Health Surveillance Section,[1] which led to their recruitment for her to serve as the first woman agricultural pilot in 1948. As she had accumulated over 1,200 flying hours, the Institute hired her to spray insecticide in an effort to eliminate the plague of borer beetles which were damaging the country's coffee crop.[8] She worked as a crop duster, spraying the insecticide Gamexame (hexachloro- cyclohexane),[1] while wearing protective gear. The insecticide was later banned as a health hazard, but not before Rogato had her only serious accident,[8] when a malfunction of the spraying apparatus caused her to crash. Rogato was hospitalized for a month[1] and it was later speculated that the exposure to the chemicals may have led to her development of cancer.[8] After her recuperation, Rogato returned to crop-dusting.[1]

In 1950, Rogato took a sabbatical from the Biological Institute and flew at her own expense to participate in airshows in Argentina, Chile and Paraguay.[8] While in Chile, she became the first woman to skydive in the country[13] and won applause when she landed with a Brazilian and Chilean flag.[7] She was awarded a commendation by the Chilean government.[13] She crossed the Andes in her Paulistinha and was awarded an aeronautical merit medal for the accomplishment. She was also given a Cessna 140, which he would use the following year on her record-breaking flight.[8] In 1951, she broke the longest solo flight record when she flew 51,064 miles from Tierra del Fuego to Anchorage, Alaska[9] over a six-month period. Flying south from Rio de Janeiro, she went to Uruguay and then Argentina before crossing the Andes, traversing the west coast of South America, Central America and North America to reach Anchorage.[13] From Anchorage, she flew to the farthest north airport, at Fort Yukon at the Arctic Circle.[14] She then retraced her flight to Seattle and flew to Washington, D.C. and on to Montreal and Ottawa in Canada before heading to the Caribbean to fly through Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Trinidad, Venezuela, all three Guyanas before returning to Brazil. The voyage was billed as a good-neighbor tour and she met with the first ladies of each of the 17 countries through which she flew.[13][6]

In 1952, Rogato became the first civilian pilot to take-off or land a low-powered aircraft, her Cessna, from El Alto in La Paz, Bolivia, which at that time was the highest altitude airport in the world.[12] In 1956, she undertook an official mission for the São Paulo government, flying to each capital of the Brazilian states[9] and in the process became the first pilot to fly over the Amazon rainforest.[8] In 1960, Rogato set another first, becoming the first woman to arrive at Ushuaia, in Tierra del Fuego, which was the southernmost city in the world at that time.[12] One of the intriguing markers of Rogato's career is that all of her flights were completed as solo voyages in low-powered aircraft (85 horsepower or less engine), which did not have sophisticated instrumentation, or even a radio.[8][13] She held the Brazilian record of parachute jumps with 105 to her credit.[1]

Rogato retired from the civil service in 1980, having attained the position of Sports and Tourism section chief for technical division,[15] but continued to fly until four years before her death. It is said she only stopped flying because she could break no further barriers without a more powerful plane.[12] From 1980 until 1986, Rogato served as the director of the Museum of Aeronautics and Space of São Paulo and also as president of the Santos Dumont Foundation.[7]

Death and legacy[edit]

Rogato died on 15 November 1986, in São Paulo and her body was laid in state at the Museum of Aeronautics. She was buried in the Santana Cemetery of São Paulo after a special "squadron of smoke" tribute.[16] Rogato was the first woman to receive the National Commendation of Aeronautical Merit, with the rank of knight. She also became the first woman Wing Commander in the Brazilian Air Force and the title of Pilot in Honoris Causa by the Brazilian Air Force. The government of Chile decorated her as a meritorious Grand Officer of the Order of Bernardo O'Higgins in 1951.[7] In 1952, she received commemorative wings from the Bolivian Air Force for her flight to La Paz.[9] Rogato was also decorated with the wings of the Colombian Air Force and in 1954 received The Paul Tissandier Diploma of Merits in Aviation from the French organization, Aeronautics International.[17]

There is a street in Ribeirão Preto named in her honor and a town square in Lapa which bears her name. In 2000, a stamp was issued by the Brazilian Post Office to commemorate her flight over the Andes.[1] In 2011, the Brazilian writer, Lucita Briza, published a biography of Rogato's life, Ada—Mulher, pioneira, aviadora with C&R Editorial.[12] Rogato's medals and her Cessna have been on display at the TAM Museum in São Carlos since 2012.[1]


  1. ^ The Biological Institute notes that when Rogato was hired she used the name Ada Leda Rogato until 1954 when she removed Leda, stating it was not shown on her birth certificate.[1] This would be born out by press clippings, which repeatedly use "Ada Leda" in the early part of her career.[2][3][4]




  • Alarcón Carrasco, Héctor (20 December 2011). "Ada Rogato: El Cóndor Solitario" [Ada Rogato: The Lonely Condor]. Chile Crónicas (in Spanish). Araucanía Region, Chile. Archived from the original on 25 December 2016. Retrieved 25 December 2016.
  • de Oliveira, Abrahão (6 April 2015). "A Primeira Paulistana a Ganhar os Céus—As Conquistas de Ada Rogato" [The First Paulistana to Win the Heavens—The Conquests of Ada Rogato]. São Paulo in Foco (in Portuguese). São Paulo, Brazil. Archived from the original on 25 December 2016. Retrieved 25 December 2016.
  • Duarte, Paulo (1974). Memórias (in Portuguese). Vol. 8. Rio de Janeiro, Brasil: Editora de Humanismo, Ciência e Tecnologia.
  • Godoy, Roberto (19 July 2011). "Nas nuvens com Ada Rogato: Lucita Briza resgata a memória da pioneira da aviação brasileira" [In the clouds with Ada Rogato: Lucita Briza rescues the memory of the Brazilian aviation pioneer]. São Paulo, Brazil: O Estado de S. Paulo. Archived from the original on 12 January 2012. Retrieved 25 December 2016.
  • Rebouças, Márcia Maria (2012). "Ada Rogato: Aviadora 1920-1986" [Ada Rogato: Aviatrix 1920-1986] (in Portuguese). São Paulo, Brazil: Secretaria de Agricultura e Abastecimento. Archived from the original on 8 March 2016. Retrieved 25 December 2016.
  • Reis, Ricardo (October 1, 2013). "The flying Brazilian". Up Magazine. Lisbon, Portugal: TAP Portugal. Archived from the original on 13 April 2014. Retrieved 16 December 2016.
  • Rodrigues, Luiz Eduardo Miranda José; de Lima, Cristiane Correia (2009). "Mulheres Aviadoras, o Pioneirismo de Ada Rogato e Seus Feitos Históricos na Aviação Brasileira" [Women Aviators, the Pioneering Ada Rogato and Her Historical Mark on Brazilian Aviation] (PDF). Revista Eletrônica AeroDesign (in Portuguese). 1 (1). São Paulo, Brazil: Instituto Federal de Educação. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 December 2016. Retrieved 16 December 2016.
  • Vidal, Olmio Barros (1945). Precursoras brasileiras (in Portuguese). Rio de Janeiro, Brasil: A Noite editora.
  • Zwerdling, Robert (8 March 2016). "Brasileiras pioneiras" [Brazilian pioneers]. AERO Magazine (in Portuguese). São Paulo, Brazil: Inner Editora Ltda. Archived from the original on 26 December 2016. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
  • "Hemisphere Hopper from Rio Reaches Ottawa". Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: The Ottawa Journal. 27 August 1951. Retrieved 16 December 2016 – via Open access icon
  • "Ada Rogato – Brazil". Centennial of Women Pilots. Vancouver, Canada: Institute for Women Of Aviation Worldwide. July 25, 2015. Archived from the original on 25 March 2016. Retrieved 25 December 2016.
  • "A História de Ada Rogato-a primeira mulher a receber a Comenda Nacional de Mérito Aeronáutico, no grau de cavalheiro, a Comenda Asas da Força Aérea Brasileira e o título da FAB de Piloto em Honoris Causa" [The History of Ada Rogato-the first woman to receive the National Commendation of Aeronautical Merit, in the rank of Knight, Wing Commander of the Brazilian Air Force and the title of Pilot in Honoris Causa by the FAB]. ADESG Nacional (in Portuguese). Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Associação dos Diplomados da Escola Superior de Guerra. 2016. Archived from the original on 23 September 2016. Retrieved 25 December 2016.
  • "Homenagens a Aviadora Ada Rogato" [Homage to Aviatrix Ada Rogato] (in Portuguese). São Paulo, Brazil: O Estado de S. Paulo. 4 December 1951. p. 6. Retrieved 25 December 2016.
  • "Rogato Reaches Vancouver on Flight to Homeland". The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. Fairbanks, Alaska. 1 August 1951. Retrieved 25 December 2016 – via Open access icon
  • "Tarde de Aviaçao" [Afternoon of aviation] (in Portuguese). São Paulo, Brazil: O Estado de S. Paulo. 13 March 1949. p. 6. Retrieved 25 December 2016.
  • "Terminam Hoje as Commemorações da 'Semana da Asa'" [Today ends the Commemorations of 'Wing Week'] (in Portuguese). São Paulo, Brazil: O Estado de S. Paulo. 25 October 1936. p. 6. Retrieved 25 December 2016.