As explained in a previous post, Dutch military helicopters have been deploying to Frosinone, Italy, homebase of the 72° Stormo of the Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force, ItAF) to conduct training activities in the mountainous areas located around the Italian airport. Tactical low level flights are needed to keep the currencies required to be employed in Afghanistan. Following the AH-64D Apache that visited Frosinone at the beginning of April, 3 CH-47 Chinook of 298 Sqn and 3 AS535U2 Cougar of the 300 Sqn of the KLu (Koninklijke Luchtmacht, the Royal Netherlands Air Force) deployed to the Italian airbase during the first two weeks of June during the operation named “High Blaze” that involved 90 military. The CH-47 performed, on average, 2 daily missions lasting around 3.5 FH (Fligh Hours) while the AS535U2 performed 3 daily 2 FH missions. As usual, when deployed to Frosinone, the Dutch detachment is autonomous; the 72° Stormo provides only the logistic support (food, fire-fighting, ATC services, and Force Protection).
On Jun. 11, Giovanni Maduli was given the possibility to visit the Dutch detachment and take the following pictures.
On Jul. 13, a Falcon 900EX of the 93° Gruppo, serialled MM62171, rolled out at Rome Ciampino with a special colour scheme applied to celebrate the 100.000 flight hours of the locally-based 31° Stormo on the Falcon 50 and Falcon 900. Giovanni Maduli attended the ceremony and took the following interesting pictures of the new Special Colour of the Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force, ItAF).
On Jul. 10, 2009, a Primera Air Boeing 737-700, with registration TF-JXG, flying as GX-362 flight, from Zakinthos (Greece) to Dublin (Ireland), with 153 passengers and 6 crew members, was escorted by a single F-2000 (not two as some sources reported) of the 4° Stormo of the Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force, ItAF) after the crew requested an emergency landing in Rome Fiumicino airport, due to a technical problem. The airplane landed safely on runway 16L, that had been kept sterile for 40 minutes for the emergency arrival with all other traffic “diverted” on runway 16R, at 16.51LT. According to the information released by the ItAF, “Typhoon 99″ was ordered to intercept the aircraft, after the B737 had made an unauthorised descent from cruising altitude to FL200. The Italian authorities initially requested the flight to divert to Naples airport, but the commander refused to land in Capodichino as it required a longer runway. Since L’Aquila and Rome were interested in that day by the G8 summit and a NFZ (No Fly Zone) was active, the Italian COFA (Comando Operativo Forze Aeree) scrambled a Typhoon to intercept the “zombie”.
The following image doesn’t depict an actual postcard I bought in Australia. I took the picture at Bondi and “photoshopped” it to create a sort of postcard, just because it reminded me one of the few ones I collected from my travel down under.
Now, look carefully at the picture and tell me if you see something strange. You should notice something: there’s a low level aircraft, a C-130, flying above the Ocean just off Sydney and that is the reason why I took the camera to shoot the picture when visiting Bondi Beach. The aircraft is barely visible at first glance but it is extremely evident the second time you look at the postcard. Something similar happened to two friends of mine that were smoking just outside their office. They clearly saw something weird, little, silent, grey, flying in the sky above them.
An UAV, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, most probably a Predator, silently overflew them at noon and twice in a few minutes around 16.00LT on Jul. 8, 2009. They contacted me to recall that they had spotted a Predator. Even if I can’t be sure they saw a Predator of the Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force, ItAF) since they should operate within L’Aquila No Fly Zone (NFZ) that they can reach from their base in Amendola via two Transit Corridors, one of them is keen on aviation (although not an expert) and is able to distinguish a UAV from another type of aircraft. Furthermore, the ItAF has been using the Predators of the 28° Gruppo of the 32° Stormo for surveillance purposes during the “Giotto Operation”, aimed to protect the G8 being held in L’Aquila. Since all the authorities, comprising the US President Barak Obama, arrived in Rome, it is possible that the Italian UAVs flying surveillance sorties within the NFZ are being used to monitor downtown Rome. The Italian TV just broadcasted an interesting video of Mr. Obama car moving from L’Aquila Preturo airport to the G8 site; what if the UAV followed the POTUS from his arrival in Pratica di Mare?
“Tomorrow, I will continuosly check the sky to see if I spot a Predator and, if I do, you’ll know it!” is what I wrote on this blog. But……on Jul. 8 I met met the two guys involved in the sighting. They explained where they thought they had seen the Predator, the colours, the altitute etc. but, as soon as I saw an Airbus 320, I asked them if by any chance they could have mistaken that type of aircraft and the answer was: “sure!”. This explains everything. That’s how urban legends spread….
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