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

Apr 02 2009 - Leave a Comment

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: