Gastão Lourenço de Lima founded Aero Agrícola Rondon in 1982 in Tangará da Serra in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso. The company was one of the first agricultural aviation spraying companies in Brazil and is today operating as one of the largest aero-agricultural and aerial firefighting companies in the country, now run with the support of the third generation of the Lima family.
Raised in the Brazilian countryside, Gastão Lourenço de Lima moved with his family to Francisco Beltrão in the state of Paraná, south of Brazil in 1963, when he was 17 years old. Upon arriving in the city, he began work as a guard at an airport and performed maintenance and aircraft cleaning. While working at the airport, he started his journey towards becoming a pilot. With few possessions, he studied the books of friends and traded his services as payment for flight hours. After four attempts, he finally passed his pilot check-ride.
Gastão then went to work for the entrepreneur Ageu Fogliatto, a landowner in the Tangará da Serra region in Mato Grosso. Knowing the region, Gastão soon realized the need for air services in the area, which, at the time, did not even have an airport. A few years later, Gastão moved with his wife and his sons, Danilo and Deomar, to the area and purchased an airplane to start an air taxi service that provided regional transportation. As local road infrastructure in the region increased in both number and quality, the demand for flights decreased, forcing Gastão to look at other service areas, eventually settling on providing aerial application services.
The company now has 12 aircraft that provide aerial application services for sugarcane and grain crops, providing aerial firefighting services during crop offseason, and providing maintenance services for other operators in the region.
Currently, Aero Agrícola Rondón has 45 employees that still, to this day, include children of pioneer Gastão, who died in 2004. The company fleet consists of six Air Tractors and six Embraer Ipanema aircraft that service the cities and regions of Mato Grosso, Tocantins, Minas Gerais, São Paulo, and Bahia in Brazil.
In 2013, Rondon was the first to install the Zanoni manufactured hydraulic gate system. Together with Serrana, and today Aero Agrícola, Rondon continues to be one of the leading companies in the protection of the Brazilian Pantanal and provides Civil Defense through aerial firefighting in the state of Mato Grosso.
Rondon also provides aerial firefighting services in Minas Gerais, in the Southeast of Brazilprotecting both public and private environmental reserves.
Luan Lima, son of Gastão and currently responsible for coordinating the operations of the company, in the details of the operations of 2021 in the Pantanal
“This year, we attended to the two regions with very poor infrastructure, which required very complex logistics. In one of them, our support trucks needed a special adaptation to reach the base of operations due to the bad state of the roads. In another region, a bridge was damaged that gave access to the support farm, and we had to reconfigure all our flight operations. To face these challenges, the operator must know the region where he is operating well because the working conditions change daily in aerial application and firefighting. Every year we are gaining more experience and specializing in our work in the Pantanal. The results have improved more and more,” said Luan Lima, son of Gastão and current head of operations for Aero Agrícola Rondon.
The main regions served by Rondon this year were Paiol, near the border between Brazil and Bolivia, and Pixaim, in the center of the marshy zone of Mato Grosso. In the latter, they contributed to the protection of the Encontro das Águas State Park, the biggest jaguar sanctuary in the world, which had been badly affected by the fires of the past year. In addition to the work on environmental reserves, Luan is optimistic about the growth of demand for services in the private sector.
“We have seen more and more interest from rural producers in fighting fire. The indigenous residents appreciate aerial firefighting as an efficient tool helping to protect crops, in addition to the spray applications. Las Algodones also sought to use aircraft to protect their cargo. We have been active in the fight against fires in natural reserves on farms [every farmer in Brazil must maintain an environmental protection area on his property] and also in residential areas”.
From generation to generation, the Lima family has contributed to the evolution of the Pantanal region. The work of the pioneer Gastão Lourenço de Lima paved the way for local aviation, was complemented by his children with the consolidation of the agro-industry as the third generation of the family now steps in to assist through aerial application and aerial firefighting in the protection of the environment throughout Brazil.