The Brazilian Air Force (FAB, in Portuguese) has a woman at the command of an operational unit for the first time. On January 26, 2022, Brazilian Air Force Major Márcia Regina Cardoso assumed command of the First Communications and Control Group’s First Squadron (1º/1º GCC, in Portuguese), based at Santa Cruz Air Base, in Rio de Janeiro. The officer’s pioneering spirit also accompanied her when she joined the FAB and graduated from the Air Force Academy (AFA, in Portuguese) in 2006, as part of the first class of female aviators. Maj. Márcia spoke with Diálogo about the challenges of her new role.
Diálogo: What does being the first woman in the FAB to take on an operational unit represent?
Brazilian Air Force Major Márcia Regina Cardoso, squadron commander: It represents a great responsibility, which I hope to be able to fulfill as best as possible, serving the mission of the 1º/1º GCC and the Brazilian Air Force. I believe the biggest challenge is people management, mainly because it is a squadron with a lot of off-site participation.
Diálogo: What is the 1º/1º GCC’s main mission?
Maj. Márcia: The purpose of the 1º/1º GCC is to install, operate, and maintain an advanced range of aerostatic operations in areas where radar coverage is not sufficient. It’s also responsible for connecting remote areas with control and operations center users in support of Brazilian Air Force exercises and operations. Recently, the squadron provided support to several operations, during the floods in Petrópolis, in February  in Rio de Janeiro, when it installed the Aerodrome Flight Information Service (AFIS) to support aircraft that took part in the rescue and support of victims.
Diálogo: How was your professional journey in the FAB prior to reaching the rank of squadron commander?
Maj. Márcia: After graduating from AFA, I specialized in rotary wings, flying the H-50 Esquilo aircraft. In 2008, I was assigned to serve in the 2°/10° GAV [10th Aviation Group’s Second Squadron], Pelican Squadron, where I had the opportunity to fly the SC-95 Bandeirante, H-1H Huey, and SC-105 Amazonas aircraft, participating in several missions, such as search and rescue, humanitarian (for example, supporting the floods in Petrópolis in 2011) and operational exercises. In 2013, I was transferred to the 3°/8° GAV [Eighth Aviation Group’s Third Squadron], Puma Squadron, where I had the opportunity to fly the H-34 Super Puma and H-36 Caracal, also participating in various missions, such as transporting authorities, humanitarian missions (such as in support of the floods in Espírito Santo state in 2013) and operational exercises. I also served at the Santa Cruz Air Base and the 1° GCC, carrying out administrative duties that contributed to my professional development. Throughout my career I was able to acquire experience for this step in my professional career with the support of my peers and superiors.
Diálogo: What drove you to become an FAB pilot?
Maj. Márcia: I was already interested in aviation, and with the entrance exams for female aviators at AFA, an opportunity arose to serve as a military pilot. As such, I was fortunate enough to join the Brazilian Air Force and serve my country.
Diálogo: What would you say to other women who dream of becoming an FAB pilot?
Maj. Márcia: No matter how much you want to achieve a goal, starting with small steps can be a good strategy. I believe that dreams can be achieved with a lot of study, effort, and concentration.