Air-to-air with the F-104 Starfighter of the 9° Stormo

In May 2003, I had the opportunity to fly a mission on board an MB-339A of the locally based 609^ Squadriglia Collegamenti to take some air-to-air pictures of the F-104 Starfighter belonging to the 10° Gruppo of the 9° Stormo and to the 18° Gruppo of the 37° Stormo, that were both based in Grazzanise.  The 18° Gruppo had been the second Gruppo to end the operations with the F-104 after the 23° Gruppo at Cervia. On Apr. 22, 2003 the final four operative F-104 and 10 pilots flew to Grazzanise to continue operating with the F-104 from Grazzanise airbase while Trapani began the work needed to accommodate the F-16s (delivered on Jun 28). Pilots of the 18th Gruppo temporarily deployed to Grazzanise were “absorbed” by the 9° Stormo. The 18° Gruppo lived parallel lives: some of the pilots were at Grazzanise with the F-104; others were at Trapani flying with the first 12 F-16 delivered; the remaining are at Tucson, attending the Arizona ANG courses on the Viper.
The photo session was part of a 5 days visit to Grazzanise to prepare a report about the 9° Stormo that was published later that year on Aeronautica & Difesa (that you can read in Italian language here: Below you can find a few pictures, you can see all the pictures (more or less 60) by clicking here:

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.