A Theory of flight class instructed by Gordon Olmstead at the Escola Tecnica de Aviacao, in San Paulo, Brazil.
A Theory of flight class is instructed by Gordon Olmstead at the Escola Técnica de Aviação, in São Paulo, Brazil.

In 1941, Embry-Riddle contracted with the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) and the U.S. State Department to create a new section in its Technical School in Miami called the Latin American Department. It would provide a dual education program for students from South America and U.S. citizens planning to seek jobs in South America.

View of students working on turbo supercharger at Escola Técnica de Aviação, São Paulo, Brazil.
Students work on a plane at the Escola Técnica de Aviação, in São Paulo, Brazil.

On December 31, 1941, the first class of 526 Latin American cadets arrived at Embry-Riddle to receive instructor-mechanic and service-mechanic training. Students were to complete 2,300 hours of training over 16 months. They came from Honduras, El Salvador, Paraguay, Chile, Venezuela, Cuba, Uruguay, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Argentina, and Brazil. The most important Latin American connection for Embry-Riddle was Brazil. 

Embry-Riddle Brazil students taking written qualification test.
Embry-Riddle Brazil students taking a written qualification test.

Brazil's Air Minister, Joaquim Pedro Salgado Filho, toured Embry-Riddle in Miami and was impressed with the operations. He asked John Paul Riddle to establish a site in Sao Paulo, Brazil. In October 1943, plans were announced to estab­lish Escola Tecnica de Aviacao, an aviation technical school that would enable that country to emulate the standardization of airfields.

A group of officers, instructors and cadets. From Left to Right: Lt. Col. Ribeiro, Director of Training; Col. H. D. Fontenelle, Commanding Officer of Afonsos Field, Brazilian Air Force Academy; Brazilian Air Minister, Dr. J. P. Salgado Filho; Mr. John Paul Riddle, President of Embry-Riddle Co.; Major Farias Lima, aide to the Minister, Mr. Adriano Ponso, technical assistant to Mr. Riddle; Col. Adil Oliveira, General Staff; Captain Luis Sampaio, aide to the Minister; and two officers of the School. Afonsos Field, Rio de Janeiro.
From Left to Right: Lt. Col. Ribeiro, Col. H.D. Fontenelle, Dr. J. P. Salgado Filho, Mr. John Paul Riddle, Major Farias Lima, Mr. Adriano Ponso, Col. Adil Oliveira, and Capt. Luis Sampaio at the Escola Técnica de Aviação, in São Paulo, Brazil.

After the approval by the Brazilian and U.S. governments, classes started in November 1943 and the school was to permanently operate in Brazil. Brazil was an American ally during World War II and sought to have its own strong air force and aviation industry.



Brigadier General Appel Netto, Commanding Officer of the 4th Air Zone, shakes hands with Mr. John Paul Riddle, President of Embry-Riddle Company in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Brigadier General Appel Netto, Commanding Officer of the 4th Air Zone, shakes hands with Mr. John Paul Riddle, President of Embry-Riddle Company in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The training of cadets by the Brazilian Division contributed to that goal. John Paul Riddle saw Brazil as a “great career of service” for Embry-Riddle personnel because they would enable Brazil to “see tremendous strides forward in aviation in Brazil.” John Paul Riddle was so dedicated to this mission that in September 1944 he left Embry-Riddle to solely pursue his venture in Brazil where his name was expected to “span the boundaries of South America and be synonymous with the flying future of our good neighbors.”