The 60th-anniversary milestone will be celebrated in Rivolto in 2021, with a great aerial event that should have gone on stage in September 2020. This is a historical event postponed only due to the worldwide diffusion of the covid-19, and which, once again, has summoned the Frecce Tricolori to be the expression of an Italy that fights and, united, knows how to overcome difficulties.
On April 25th they flew over a silent Rome, and at the end of May, with a “tricolour embrace”, overall the regional capitals, but also over Codogno, the symbol of the pandemic, and the sanctuary of Madonna di Loreto, the patroness of aviators for 100 years. But the history of the Frecce Tricolori, the largest and perhaps most famous aerobatic team in the world (with 10 aircraft) began on 1st March 1961, right on the Friulian Airport. The desire of the Italian Air Force was in fact to create a single Aerobatic Department representing the founding values of the entire Armed Forces, such as teamwork, professionalism, the spirit of sacrifice and abnegation aimed at achieving their goals.
The Frecce Tricolori have never ceased to charm and fascinate, even though things have changed since 1st March 1961: first of all, the planes have changed (we moved from the North American F-86 Sabre to the FIAT G-91, and then, in 1982, to the current Aermacchi MB339, which in the next few years will give way to the more advanced Aermacchi M-345), and so have the pilots (the training is renewed every year with new entries, and the positions covered change too, a system skilfully adopted to reduce the risk of overconfidence).
Even the aerobatic programme – although it has basically remained true to itself since 1961 to the present day – has undergone changes, introducing over the years some new manoeuvres (such as the “Tricolour Spark”) in the repertoire of the current 31 figures (counting also the Soloist’s ones) that make up the show of the ten, coordinated by the ground commander (another feature of the P.A.N.: the most experienced and senior member is not in the air, but on the ground supervising the work of the team).
The show can open in two ways, depending on whether the P.A.N. performs at the departure airport: either with the take-off of two sections that then re-join to make an entry Schneider turn (followed by the triangle) or with an entry triangle looping. The closure, though, can happen only in one way: with the longest tricolour in the world in the figure of Alona, in which 9 aircraft information (with bogies, air brakes and extended flaps) spread the green, white and red of the Italian flag in the sky, crossed in its initial phase by the Soloist performing a pin. Since 1992 (the second P.A.N. trip in the USA, homage to the Italians living in America), the show has been accompanied by the music of “Nessun Dorma” and the voice of Maestro Luciano Pavarotti.
In short: means, things and men have changed with time passing by. But one thing has certainly remained unchanged, as has the professionalism of the members of the Aerobatic Team: the emotion of watching a show (lasting about 25 minutes and therefore with an evolution practically every minute and a half) that has no equal on the planet and that enchants, fascinates and seduces in a 60-year-long flight, capable of proudly uniting all Italians under a single flag.
Special thanks to Aeronautica Militare Italiana and the 313th Aerobatic Training Group for their collaboration.
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edit by Alessandro Colombo