(Presumed) Italian Predators spotted above Rome during G8 and…..an Australian picture

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….

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.