Aviation Pioneers

Angelika Helberger Frobenius, Aviation Pioneer of Colombia

All industries need brave people with strong personalities to propel it forward. Since real progress requires taking real risks and doing what others deem impossible, willpower is necessary. Fortunately aviation industry does not lack such people who are ready to take on any challenge to so something unimaginable. Considering that it is an industry that especially needs such people due to its dangerous nature, this is very lucky for all humanity. From the Wright Brothers who built the first powered aircraft to others who helped develop the industry, there are many people whom we should be thankful. In this post we are going to discuss the life of one such pioneer of aviation, Angelika Helberger Frobenius. Here we will get to learn about the story of a strong woman who isn’t afraid to live a daring life.

Earlier Life Of Angelika Helberger Frobenius

Angelika Helberger Frobenius was born in 1940 in Germany. As the granddaughter of a successful ethnologist and archaeologist, Leo Frobenius, she surely had an freedom and willpower in her blood. We do not know much about her childhood or early life. But we can say that the first couple of years of her life were quite difficult. Since Germany was at the center of WW2 at that time, her earliest memories must have been of war and struggle. However, such hardships did not make her one bit scared to go after the things that she wanted, as we will see from her inspiring life story. Instead this made her even more bold and strong, giving her the ability to push through any obstacle on her way.

As a young girl living in Germany, she completed her high school education in Freie Waldorfschule Frankfurt. Then, it didn’t take that long for her to start going out of her comfort zone to explore better opportunities. Since Germany after WW2 didn’t offer very great opportunities, she looked for them elsewhere. Following her graduation, she went to France to study sociology. However, she didn’t stay there for too long and went to England instead, where she met her future husband. After getting married to her now ex-husband, they had a baby on the 11th of November 1958.

Then 3 months after her baby was born, she and her husband seperated. Angelika then went to Colombia, where her mother lived. However, this reunion didn’t go as planned and her mother told her to leave after living together for some time. After this unfortunate event, she moved to another city in Colombia and started living in a poultry farm. This whole time she was making a living by acting and modeling. During all this was happening, she met a member of a local aero club, who gave her the inspiration to pursue aviation.

Angelika Helberger Frobenius’ Aviation Career and Later Life

After getting that much needed inspiration to pursue a career in aviation Helberger started looking for ways to make this idea a reality. However, during those times men dominated the aviation industry and it was very difficult, if not impossible, for a woman to become a commercial pilot. But as you can probably guess, Angelika Helberger Frobenius was not a quitter and she was determined to achieve what others thought was impossible. She had some very useful skills under her belt, such as being able to speak German, French, Spanish and English fluently. Also, she had modeled for aviation companies such as Air France and knew about at least some part of the industry.

Without wasting any time she went asking pretty much everywhere she could for getting aviation training and a pilot’s license. After looking for opportunities to become a pilot, she came up with a great idea. She went to Juan Pablo Ortega, the president of Avianca S.A. at the time, and asked him to finance her flight training. In return, she would work for Avianca once she got her license and repay her debt to the company. Although this offer seemed quite absurd to Ortega, he saw the potential in Helberger and accepted the deal.

In 1965, one year after making the deal with Ortega, Helberger got her pilot’s license and started working for a small company flying short distances. Then five years later, on the 1st of September 1970, she got the job that she was looking to get. Now she was flying a Douglas DC-4 and became the first female commercial pilot in South America. Seven years later this, she started flying a Boeing 727 for Avianca. However, she later met someone that she fell in love with and got pregnant. After her maternity leave, Avianca fired her and she had to look for other passions to pursue.

She then studied agriculture and started spreading awareness on environmental issues. But after going through some difficulties in Colombia, she moved to Argentina to focus on writing and spending more time with her family.


Richard Emblin (October 30 2012), Helberger, Colombia’s pioneer of aviation, The City Paper Bogota, Retrieved 4 December 2021

< https://thecitypaperbogota.com/features/the-pilot-pioneer/4 >

Angelika Helberger Frobenius’ Facebook profile