On the Friday before Valore Tricolore, the prestigious venue of the Council Room of Comune di Ravenna hosted the final press conference during which the Organizers presented to the media the following Sunday event’s final program, together with the rich menu of satellite activities.
Oriano Callegati, President of Lugo Aeroclub “Francesco Baracca”, that organized the 4th edition of Valore Tricolore, thanked Ravenna’s deputy mayor Eugenio Fusignani, and the Ravenna City Council for their collaboration and hospitality, and for supplying the City’s Metro Police to ensure security and traffic management during the hectic weekend. Mr. Fusignani reaffirmed the City’s support for such an event, generating a positive touristic and economic impact for the community.
A huge Thanks also went to all Police Forces (100+ officers) and for the volunteers from ANC, AAA, ANMI e Mistral associations, whose support made such a large event possible, to Proloco Marina di Ravenna and to Provincia di Ravenna for endorsing this year’s edition, and of course to Italy’s State-owned TV RAI, for broadcasting the whole airshow live.
The following Officers attended, representing the participating Services:
Col. Diego Sismondini, Commander, 15° Stormo at Cervia;
Capt. Gianguido Manganaro, Commander, MMS ‘Andrea Doria’, a guided-missile destroyer that was moored at Porto Corsini and open for public visits in the two days preceding Valore Tricolore;
Lt. Col. Gianmarco di Loreto, test pilot with 311° Gruppo, Reparto Sperimentale at Volo di Pratica di Mare, one of the first two italian pilots to qualify on the F 35A and first pilot in the world to cross the Atlantic in an F 35A in 2016;
Maj. Agostino Iacicco from 7° Vega of the Army Aviation at Rimini;
Maj. Gaetano Farina, Commander, Frecce Tricolori undisputed headliners of Valore Tricolore.
And of course Oreste Martini, the Air Boss, in charge of organizing and coordinating all flight activities in cooperation with Lt. Ten. Stefano Pietropaoli of the Air Force Staff, who offered a brief overview of the challenges of managing such a complex display, the only one of its kind in Italy.
As per standard procedure, the day before an airshow all aircraft involved schedule a full rehearsal on the same premises of the airshow proper.
Knowing this, a sizeable crowd of enthusiasts and spotters had gathered on the military air base at Cervia-Pisignano Saturday, June 22 to have a rare “behind-the-scenes” look at an airshow, i.e. the takeoffs and landings for the rehearsals by all the aircraft partecipating in Valore Tricolore, be they “locals” or “in transit”, including the famed Frecce Tricolori.
Thanks in no small part to the customary friendly hospitality offered by the 15° Stormo personnel, all appeared to be “GO” for a bonanza of “distinguished” movements.
On top of the resident HH 139’s and HH 101’s, infact, a C 27J, a F 2000A and two T 346A’s from Reparto Sperimentale di Volo (the Italian Air Force’s Test Unit) had relocated on the Cervia Air Base, together with the Frecce Tricolori, while a KC 130J from 46^ Brigata Aerea was due in for the AAR (Air-to-Air Refueling) demo with the CAESARs.
Except that, right before the start of the pre-flight operations, the weather conditions above Punta Marina (just 20kms away) turned rapidly sour due to a violent storm rolling in from the west bringing thunder, lightning and a very severe hailstorm.
After uselessly waiting for the weather to clear, all flight ops, that had initially been posponed, were canceled for good and rescheduled for the following morning, leaving all spotters disappointed.
But not without presenting some consolation prizes to the more stubborn among them, just as a lightning storm right as backdrop for a couple of helos taxiing …
It must be true then that low expectations bring high rewards!
On Sunday, June 23rd the 2019 edition of Valore Tricolore stormed the beaches of Punta Marina di Ravenna with a very military airshow, enhanced by choice civilian acts. The franchise airshow has steadily improved over the years, and this year’s fourth edition delivered the best such event in Italy, thanks to a full-fledged support by Italy’s Armed Forces and Services as underlined by Italy’s Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. S. A. Alberto Rosso attending, and by Italian State TV RAI broadcasting the whole event.
More than 200.000 people crowded the sandy beach and spent Sunday’s afternoon looking at the sky, as part of a whole weekend dedicated to Italy’s Armed Forces: the Navy’s guided-missile destroyer Andrea Doria D553 was docked at Porto Corsini and available for public visits, until launching its own MH 90A helicopter for Sunday’s shoreline tactical event and setting sail for the waters before Libya.
But it was not just about military ships and aircraft. Several stands on Viale dei Navigatori promoted the Services’ capabilities alongside selected Italian world class companies: Lamborghini, Ducati and Formula 1 Toro Rosso Racing Team, while Cristoforo Colombo promenade offered several street food stands.
Valore Tricolore is organized by Aero Club “Francesco Baracca” in Lugo together with the Municipality of the City of Ravenna, under the auspices of Regione Emilia-Romagna and of Provincia di Ravenna and with the support of the Ravenna chapter of the Air Force Association.
From a technical standpoint, VT19’s success was guaranteed by Oreste Martini, airshow director, and by Lt. Col. Stefano Pietropaoli of the Air Force Staff, who coordinated aircraft scheduling.
The program alternated between civil and military, modern and vintage aircraft, in a skillful crescendo of technical sophistication and showmanship, featuring aerobatics and an anthology of Italy’s aeronautical progress, and climaxing with extremely realistic tactical demos of SAR (Search and Rescue), interdiction and air policing missions.
Ultralight turboshaft-powered Curti Aerospace Zefhir helicopter kicked off the air program, demonstrating excellent maneuverability, closely followed by Andrea Pesenato’s dazzling display aboard his golden yellow CAP 231, apparently defeating aerodynamics with maneuver bordering stall and uncontrollability.
Enter the 15° Stormo from Cervia’s HH 139A for a SAR demo featuring the extraction of a stretcher-ridden castaway, followed by a demo of a Carabinieri nimble AW 109N Nexus helicopter.
It was then the Coast Guard’s turn to display its SAR capabilities with an AW 139 helicopter that first recovered an ailing swimmer, and then proceeded to support an AW 139 and a couple of Guardia di Finanza motorboats in a very dynamic pursuit and seize of a rogue boat.
The spectacular maneuvering by all participating assets so close to the shore had the crowd in a spell and demonstrated without a doubt the crews’ outstanding skills.
The spell carried on through to the following demo, featuring Andrea Doria’s MH 90 helicopter inserting a squad of San Marco marines and deploying an inflatable dinghy to storm the beach, followed by the Italian Army’s tactical event featuring an A 129C/D attack helicopter and an NH 90TTH from 7° Vega in Rimini in a simulated insertion of a squad under the cover of the Mangusta.
The sudden silence that followed the helicopters’ set the stage for the piloted launch of a team of Folgore and COMSUBIN (COMando SUBacquei and INcursori) paratroopers from a 46^ Brigata Aerea C 130J and carrying tricolored smoke grenades until ‘chute and giant-sized flag deployment. As expected, they precision-landed right amidst the enthusiastic crowd.
More props followed, but moving airplanes this time: enter Team Yakitalia with their three twin-seat Yak 52’s, and the WeFly Team, the only all-handicapped aerobatic team, with their three Fly Synthesis Texan TC’s.
Formazione Legend kicked off the Vintage section of the airshow with their uniquely-themed quartetof former AM trainers: a North American Texan T 6G, a FIAT G 46-3B, a SIAI Marchetti SF 260AM and an Aermacchi MB 326, while the highly commendable Historical Aircraft Group payed tribute to great Italian designer Stelio Frati with a two pair of Aviamilano F8L’s and SF 260’s, and featured Andrea Rossetto’s pristine Cessna L 19/O 1E Bird Dog in Vietnam US Army livery with a garish sharkmouth flanked by two Wolf W-11 Boredom Fighter biplanes.
Jonathan Collection’s replica Spad XIII, in the colorful markings of Italian alltime fighter ace Francesco Baracca, closed the airshow’s Warbird section with a well-received tricolor display.
At this point the Aeronautica Militare kicked in, with a bona fide show.
First a multi-type formation of KC 767A + Typhoon + F 35A representing the Air Force’s force projection capabilities, followed by a highly symbolic formation of an F 35A flanked by two AMX’s, signifying the quantum leap in capabilities enforced by the full operational readiness of the world’s most advanced fighter, finally displayed in a variety of maneuvers and configurations for everybody to admire — plain enthusiasts and spotters alike.
A third mixed formation highlighted ItAFpilots’ top skills with a simulated AAR configuration, featuring two HH 101A CAESAR hooked to a KC 130J for the whole duration of the fly-by.
After a scramble demo, with the KC 767A impersonating a stray airliner intercepted by a Typhoon, the F 2000A belonging to the Evaluation and Test Unit demonstrated her agility, power surplus and control with a lengthy and thrilling display, very reminiscent of an actual dogfight.
The amazing C 27J, flown by the Test Pilots of RSV, had her share of open-mouthed “WOW”s thanks to a charged display featuring effortless barrel rolls and loopings, maneuvers normally associated more to fighters than cargo planes, while, last but not least, the excellent T 346A of RSV highlighted a few of the qualities that sold her to Israel’s and Poland’s Air Forces.
As with any self-respecting airshow, the crowd, albeit almost overwhelmed by an extraordinarily rich program, was nevertheless awaiting the much-anticipated top-of-the-bill act: the Frecce Tricolori.
Italy’s world-renowned display team dramatically entered the airshow area from behind the stands to trace the first of many three-colored-smoke flags above the sea, kicking off their standard program, this time in its “high” version thanks to a very crisp sky affording 20/20 visibility.
The PAN did not disappoint.
The routine is well known even by the most casual viewer, but as with all performances each is different.
Yet, in Punta Marina the Frecce were evidently perfectly in tune, regaling the crowd with a perfect, spotless display, replete of perfect formations and full synchronicity, enhanced by an at long last excellent commentary.
The final Big Wing figure, featuring “the world’s longest Tricolor” over a soundtrack of the “Nessun Dorma” from Puccini’s Turandot was the final blow to any delusions of impassibility, and triggered the customary, healthy patriotic emotion in the crowd.
This author would like to thank Col. Merola (UCOM), Col. Somma (UCOM), Col. Sismondini (15° Stormo), Lt.Col. Pietropaoli (SMA), Capt. Agostinelli (15° Stormo), Capt. Masini (15° Stormo) and the Aeronautica Militare Press Office.
Also a special thanks to Mr. Oriano Callegati (Aero Club Lugo)
Images and text by Fabio Castelvetri
Produced by Giorgio Ciarini