The aviation industry in Brazil has plenty of opportunities for pilots in both the business aviation market and with larger global companies. Chris Long speaks to one female pilot who has accomplished her aviation dream.

Once upon a time, a dreamy girl, who grew up with two brothers in a small city in the interior of Brazil... Of course, I’m not a fictional character who appears in a Walt Disney picture and I was never left in the unfortunate care of a cruel stepmother who forced me to work as a scullery maid in my own home. But I can say that since the beginning I faced several battles to find my freedom and make my dream come true.

As we all know, flying planes is a heavily male dominated industry and I will describe how I got into the business and what the main challenges were.

First of all, I’m very glad to be part of a generation that is changing its perception that there is a difference between working with men or women. A pilot or any other professional should be employed based on their skills and not their gender. But it is going to be a long journey until we see more and more females in aviation.

My first memory as an airplane lover takes me from the time I was very young. My older brother got a collection box of iron cars, and among them came two small planes, which he gave me. I remember playing for hours with those little toys every day. Later, I remember walking with my parents in an agribusiness event, where the Brazilian Air Force Smoke Squadron (Esquadrilha da Fumaça) did an amazing flying display. It was the very first time I watched those manoeuvres. The Tucano aircraft fleet and the pilots made me feel simply enchanted.

A few years passed by and, at 16, my father brought me a newspaper article talking about the first woman group that would join the Brazilian Air Force Academy. It encouraged me even more to make my dream come true one day in the future. But at this time I was planning to get into a college to get a degree in tourism, and that is where I started.

After almost 10 years, my father and I went to visit a flight school located in the city of Londrina – PR, and I ended up enrolling to begin the course of Private Pilot. In parallel, after some time, I went to Canada to improve my English and obtain a master’s degree while doing some extra jobs to raise money to complete the pilot school and become a commercial pilot.

Determination

Since the beginning, I realized that many people never believed in a woman’s potential in this area. But I was resilient and focused on seeking a career in aviation, and did not underestimate the amount of work required to make me a pilot. There are many paths to take, with many challenges on the way. Determination and dedication were key to getting there.

I’m an extremely persistent person and in 2015 I started my new career. My first professional experience was in business aviation and later on I become a flight instructor. It was a great pleasure to be able to apply my knowledge in a place where I could not only train future pilots, but also inspire people that had dreams just like me. But even in my best dreams I had never imagined one day to be part of the Embraer family, a global leading aircraft manufacturer, which makes Brazil proud.

Working at Embraer means a new flight level in my career which demands years of studying and training. I’m very proud of working with a group of very skilled people, and having the opportunity to demonstrate the company’s products in countless places around the world and different cultures.

I have started my journey in the company flying the commercial jets E1 and now the new generation E2, as well as the Lineage 1000E business jet. These aircraft feature the state-of-art technology and are very pilot-friendly. Along with the Embraer flight team, I have had the pleasure of doing delivery flights to multiple customers and attending airshows such as Singapore, EBACE and Farnborough to present Embraer’s products and services to customers, authorities and visitors.

It tends to be a long journey, but I believe that the market is gradually changing perception about the value that a woman’s touch can bring to aviation.

Diversity & Inclusion

Unfortunately, the old misperception was a true blocker for many other dreamy girls like me. Until 2016 only 1.4% of the pilots in Brazil were women. But diversity and inclusion is helping alleviate the aviation skills shortage. And I’m very happy to see global organizations being dedicated to the encouragement and advancement of women in all aviation career fields and interests.

Definitely things have changed. Not only in Brazil but worldwide the number of women in aviation is increasing gradually. I believe it is happening because many people admire and support this initiative.

I have already had the opportunity to travel through east and west, mountains, seas, deserts, forests, Asia, Africa, America and Europe. I'm sure I still have a lot to learn and lots of experiences to share. And it just can happen because I believe we can dream, believe, struggle and accomplish. Big dreams like this were never meant to stay inside. And it is not another Cinderella story.” 

Published in CAT issue 5/2018