Currently deployed to Decimomannu are the MB.339CDs belonging to the 212° Gruppo of the 61° Stormo of the Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force, ItAF). Giovanni Maduli went there and took the following pictures of the “339ers” landing after a local sortie.
“Con la Diana sul Petto” is the name of the event that the 5° Stormo organised in Cervia airbase to give farewell to the F-16. The locally-based 23° Gruppo is in fact about to release its remaining “Vipers” to the 18° Gruppo based in Trapani, that will be the last Italian squadron to fly with the F-16, while Cervia will probably host the HH-3F of the 15° Stormo. To celebrate the event, a special colour and a special tail were prepared and displayed in a sort of mini-airshow that was scheduled to take place both on April 16 and 17, 2010. On the first day, a training display by the Frecce Tricolori was also scheduled but the 9 MB.339s did not perform their practice display because of the bad weather, while, on Apr. 17, the entire flying activity was cancelled because of the volcanic ash that interested the Northern Italian airspace.
The full special was MM7244, sporting a large “Viper” to homage the nickname of the aircraft, while the MM7236 had a special tail with the Diana the Hunter in two different versions on the two faces of the tail.
The following panoramic picture was obtained by stitching 15 3908x2096pixel pictures.
Interestingly, I found the issue of Rivista Aeronautica with my article on the 5° Stormo, published in 2004, put into a frame and hang up on the corridor inside the 23° Gruppo building.
The following pictures were taken by Giancarlo Ventura at Malpensa airport and depict the De Havilland DH-100 “Vampire” a recent addition to the collection of “Volandia”, the museum located at Vizzola Ticino, next to the Malpensa airport, whose opening will take place on May 8, 2010. The aircraft c/n 668, that is actually an FB6 modified to appear more or less as an FB52A, is a former Swiss Air Force plane that was painted with the natural metal livery of the Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force, ItAF) and given the markings of the 6° Stormo (even if the roundel is too large and with the wrong green colour). It was purchased from the Association Varoise des Avions de Collection (hence the French registration F-AZHJ) but in spite of being airworthy and perfectly efficient (it has flown an air-to-air photo session with the M346 and M311 on April 8, 2010, in Venegono) it will not fly in Italy.
The following Italian Vampire profile is a courtesy of Ugo Crisponi of AVIATIONGRAPHIC.COM.
After reading some news dealing with the presumed imminent return to flight of an airworthy Italian F-104 (obviously hoaxes related to the April Fool’s Day), I decided to publish the following postcard made with a picture I took more or less in this period, 7 years ago, in 2003. The image, a scan from a 35mm colour slide, depicts an F-104S ASA-M of the 10° Gruppo landing on runway 06 at Grazzanise airbase. It is “Photoshop free” (frame aside, of course): a genuine photograph of the F-104 in a day in which many Starfighter-related hoaxes are spreading through the Web.
In the last days I had the opportunity to watch the last two DVDs dedicated to the F-104 produced by Pro-Wing International; those filmed in October 2004 that focus on the very last days of the F-104 at Grazzanise, the airbase where the (operative) career of the Starfighter ended on Oct. 31, 2004. Respectively titled “F-104EVER: the last STAR fighter” and ““THE LEGEND: Eternal Star”, the two DVDs represent the two episodes of an extremely interesting movie produced by Luc Delestinne, the famous aviation film maker and producer whose Pilot’s View® mini-cameras among the few ones in the world to be “flight-safety approved”, meaning that they can be even attached to the pilot’s helmets or masks to provide some of the most dramatic in-flight views ever seen. In the last period, while preparing my latest book on the F-104, I’ve re-examined all the material about the “Zipper” I’ve collected during the years. After reviewing all the videos ever produced on this subject I think Delestinne’s last work is a masterpiece as the movie not only provides footage of the real life at the base, preflight checks, engine start-up (from both pilot’s and crew’s perspective) but, through the use HD cameras and micro-cameras, it allows the viewer to discover the pilot’s point of view and to experience the thrill of taking off, flying and landing (even in emergency…) with the “Spillone”, of piloting the famous special coloured 9-99 or of performing aerobatic manoeuvers in formation with another Starfighter. I think the following trailer gives an interesting preview of the contents of the DVDs (noteworthy, the following Youtube video refers to the entire F-104 collection produced by Pro-Wing that couples the above mentioned movies with “The Slivers: Stars & Fighters”, that deals with the famous Belgian Air Force Starfighter team with historical footage of the close formation team):