Monthly Archives: October 2010

Italian Armed Forces Day arrivals

As happend in 2008 and 2009, Circus Maximus (Circo Massimo) in Rome will host an exhibition with equipment belonging to the Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force), Marina Militare (Italian Navy) and Guardia Costiera (Coast Guard), Esercito Italiano (Italian Army), Guardia di Finanza (Custom Police) and Carabinieri (Military Police) as part of the celebrations for the traditional Italian Armed Forces Day (Nov. 4th). On Oct. 28, the first helicopters landed in the Circus Maximus and Giovanni Maduli was there to take the following pictures of the arrivals.








Wings over Atlanta: the Dobbins Air Reserve Base airshow

In the last few weeks readers of this blog have had the opportunity to read articles and watch pictures taken at airshows all around the world: in September, with a series of posts, I described the 50th Anniversary of the Frecce Tricolori airshow in Rivolto; then, I reported about the RAAF Williamtown airshow thanks to the pictures and report provided by Ed Armstrong and a few days ago, I wrote a post about the famous Axalp airshow, attended this year by Simone Bovi. The “world airshow tour” completes with another interesting report, this time by Moreno Aguiari, a former Italian commercial and Cropduster pilot living in the USA, who attended the Wings over Atlanta airshow, at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, that among the others, featured the interesting displays of the US Navy Blue Angels and Canadian Snowbirds, a rare sight outside America. Moreno sent me the following pictures and wrote an interesting detailed report of the Dobbins airshow for the readers of this site:

In the Oct. 16-17 weekend, like previous years, the skies over Dobbins ARB in Atlanta were filled with aerobatics during the 2010 “Wings over Atlanta” airshow. Aerial feats were performed by noted military teams like the Navy’s own Blue Angels and the Air Force Academy’s Wings of Blue elite parachute team. International guests, like the Canadian Snowbirds were also in attendance, offering thrilling examples of advanced aerial skills and tricky formations. Along with the performers, the audience enjoyed static displays, food, and opportunities to talk to pilots, civilian and military personnel about their professions. After the 2008 air show became a traffic issue for many visitors, this year’s organizers reached out to area transit providers and lot owners for help. In response, 127 busses were contracted and used to transport nearly 200,000 spectators, free of charge, who arrived for the show both on Saturday and on Sunday. Parking space was provided by Lockheed Martin, located on the Dobbins base. Organizers were pleased with the results as crowds gasped and applauded at the many thrilling aerial exercises provided by the experienced pilots and their support teams. Other performances by Red Eagle, Dan Buchanan, Gary Rower, Bill Braak and his Smoke-N-Thunder Jet Car, F/A -18 Hornet Demo, Kent Pietsch Jelly Belly, Dobbins C-130 Airdrop, “Otto” The Helicopter (a favorite, especially among children), Georgia State Patrol Helo Demo, Viper East F-16 Demo, Sean D. Tucker/Oracle and others provided even more excitement for the day.
The organization of the air show was handled by the 94th Airlift Wing, that is organized into a headquarters element, three groups, and a medical element containing 11 Squadrons and 4 Flights (1,800 personnel) and whose mission is threefold. The primary mission is to train C-130H aircrews for the United States Air Force — active duty, guard and reserve components. The second mission is to maintain combat ready units to deploy on short notice to support contingencies anywhere in the world. The third mission is to support all agencies and tenants at Dobbins Air Reserve Base.

The highlight of the show was, without a doubt, the performance of the US Navy Blue Angels F/A-18s and their support plane, the C-130, affectionately known as “Fat Albert”. The aerial demonstration begun by exhibiting the jet’s maximum performance capabilities during a ten-minute performance. Shortly thereafter, it was the time for the graceful aerobatic maneuvers of the four-jet Diamond Formation, in concert with the fast-paced, high-performance maneuvers of its two solo pilots. Finally, the team illustrated the pinnacle of precision flying, performing maneuvers locked as a unit in the renowned, six-jet Delta Formation.

The Blue Angels, although less aerobatic from a pure jet handling point of view than the USAF counterparts, the Thunderbirds, showed off some incredible precision flying, considering the size of Hornet.
The Blue Angels were scheduled to fly 68 performances at 35 airshow sites in the United States during the 2010 season as the team celebrates its 23rd year of flying the F-18. The Dobbins Airshow was the 66th of the season, and the Angels still have one more show in Homestead, FL before of the Homecoming show in Pensacola, Florida on November 11th and 13th.
This year’s show also hosted the Canadian Snowbirds. Officially known as the Canadian Forces 431 Air Demonstration Squadron, they fly the CT-114 Tutors that were designed and built by Canadair. The Canadians are well known for their precise flight program that includes different formations composed by 9 or 7 planes, as well as solo flights.
Another amazing show was performed by flying legend Sean D. Tucker, flying his custom built Oracle Challenger III biplane which produces more than 400 horsepower, weighs only 1,200 pounds, and is considered the most high-performance aerobatic aircraft in the world. The Challenger III is equipped with a unique set of wings that use 8 ailerons instead of 4. The tail on the airplane is modeled after the tail used on high-performance radio control airplanes. What Sean does with his plane seems beyond the all laws of aerodynamics.

The power of the Oracle’s engine allows Sean to “hang” vertically in the skies without losing altitude. Sean D. Tucker’s “Sky Dance” daytime performance begins with an unbelievable sequence of events. One second he’s tumbling the 330 HP Randolph Sunglass Challenger end-over-end, and then all the sudden flying it tail-first, straight towards the earth for 500 feet at negative airspeeds of up to 90 MPH while rolling his aircraft counter-clockwise! Before the first spiral of smoke begins to fade, Tucker plunges into a powerful and complex aerobatics sequence that demonstrates the talent that won him the coveted U.S. National Advanced Aerobatics Trophy in 1988. Tucker’s spectacular sequence includes original, adrenaline-pumping maneuvers like “The Centrifuge,” “The Son of Edwin,” “The Spiraling Tower,” “The Tucker Upper,” “The Harrier Pass” and the heart-stopping finale “The Triple ribbon Cut.”

The static display, whose centerpiece was the F-22 Raptor with its incredible engines strictly covered, was very impressive this year with some of the greatest warbirds, such as P-51 Mustangs, the P-40, the mammoth Grumman TBF Avenger and many more. As usual the planes were open cockpit and from the giant planes like the C-5, C-17, and KC-135 it was possible to enter in the cargo bay and climb up into the cockpit.
Delta Airlines flew one of its B-757’s to Dobbins, promoting the fight against cancer.

Without a doubt this year’s Wings over Atlanta was another successful airshow for the 94th AW.





















































Axalp 2010

In 2006 I went to Axalp, Switzerland, and wrote a detailed report (in both Italian and English) that provided all the “tips and tricks” to reach the Axalp Ebenfluh range at 2.300 meters above sea level and to observe the flight operations taking place at Meiringen airbase.
Simone Bovi made the same experience on Oct. 13, 2010, and took the following interesting pictures of this year’s edition of the famous Axalp “unconventional” and unique airshow held each year, in October, by the Swiss Air Force, in the Alps of the Bernese Oberland. Next year’s Axalp airshow is scheduled for Oct. 12 – 13, 2011, while Axalp 2012 will take place on Oct. 10 – 11, 2012.













Geo Chávez

On Oct. 16, 2010, Volandia museum hosted a conference about Jorge Chávez (known as Geo Chávez) who, on Sept. 23, 1910, performed the first flight across the Alps. The conference aimed at analysing the tecnical, historical and scientific details of the historical flight, was one of a series of events organized to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Chavez’s achievement.
Simone Bovi (who’s also the author of the below pictures) explains:

On 23 September 2010 a Pilatus PC-12 (I-CNDB) with Captain Gianni Dameno and copilot Claudio Tovaglieri on board, took off from Milan Malpensa to commemorate the Chàvez’s first solo flight across the Alps.
The aircraft, after reaching Raron airport (a former military airfield near Briga, Switzerland), landed in Domodossola where the crew, after taking the Chávez original worn flying helmet, brought it to Linate airport (former Taliedo airport where Chávez should have landed), thus accomplishing, a century later, the original flightplan planned by the Peruvian aviator.
Geo Chávez, at the age of 23, joined the “Gran Premio della Traversata delle Alpi” (Crossing Alps Gran Prix) in 1910, a competition established during the “Circuito Aereo Internazionale” of Milan. At that time the rules of the race forced the participants to fly the route Brigue (Switzerland) – Domodossola – Sempione – Stresa – Varese – with the final arrival at Milan Taliedo (now Linate airport) within a limited time of 24 hours.
On board his monoplane Blériot XI, equipped with a 50CV engine, Chávez took off from Briga and flew over the Alps inbound to Milan. His flight ended tragically at Domodossola where, from an altitude of 20 mt, the plane crashed on the ground following a sudden structural collapse. Heavily wounded, Chàvez died four days later at the hospital”.

Even if he didn’t succeed in reaching Milan and winning the Gran Prix, he was the first to fly across the Sempione with an aircraft. On Jan. 25, 1913, another Peruvian pilot, Giovanni Bielovucic, flew the same route landing next to the gravestone which marked the place where Chávez had crashed. However, nobody remembers him. His historical flight had a tremendous impact on aviation of that period and both Italy, France, Switzerland and Peru rendered honours to the unlucky pilot. Squares and streets were named after the Peruvian pilot in Italy, Switzerland and France (in Paris, a sculpture was raised at the Ecole d’électricité, that was attended by Chávez); Domodossola and Brigue, the start and end of his last flight, dedicated monuments to the lost aviator while Alitalia named after him a B747, the I-DEMU, that flew with the Italian airline from 1971 to 1981.
In November 1910, Giovanni Pascoli, one of the greatest Italian poets of the ‘900, mourned Chávez in a poem calling him “Uomo Alato” (“the Winged Man”).
In Peru, Chávez became an icon for aviation. His legendary words: “Arriba, siempre arriba” (“Up, always up) became the slogan of the Fuerza Aérea del Perú (FAP, Peruvian Air Force). A monument was raised for Jorge Chávez in Lima in 1937, where, in 1965, the international airport inaugurated in 1960 was named after him. His remains, initially buried in Paris, were repatrieted on Sept. 19, 1957 and currently rest at the Officer’s School of the Peruvian Air Force at Las Palmas airbase. The International Airport of Lima, inaugurated in 1960, is named after him. For many years, a life-sized replica of Chávez famous Blériot XI monoplane was on display at the air terminal.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Musée de l'Air et de l'Espace, Le Bourget, Paris

Located mid way between downtown Paris and Charles De Gaulle-Roissy airport, the Musée de l’Air et de l’Espace Paris (Air and Space Museum), in the south eastern part of Le Bourget airport, is a must for any aviation enthusiast. The Museum stretches on 150,000 square meters of aprons and hangars and contains a collection of some 180 aircraft: from 16th century items tied to the Montgolfier brothers, to the parts of the Zeppelin LZ113, from biplanes of the beginning of the 20th century, to the ballistic missiles or the legendary Vietnam War veteran Republic F-105 Thunderchief “Thud”. The Museum’s collections are organized in different areas or collection halls, each representing a different period or theme.
Admittance is free, but you have to pay a ticket if you want to make a tour inside an Air France B747-128 (F-BPVJ, performing last commercial flight Beirut-Paris on Feb. 10, 2000), in an American DC-3 or in the two Concorde planes that you can find in the Concorde hall of the Museum (that, to me, alone, were worth the visit): the prototype 001 “F-WTSS”, that made its maiden flight on Mar. 2, 1969, piloted by André Turcat and Jacques Guignard and was retired from service after 397 test flights and 812 flight hours (255 supersonic ones); and the Concorde F-BTSD Sierra Delta, one of the last of such type to fly with Air France, that was retired to the Museum on Jun. 14, 2003, 13 days before the last flight of the Fox Charlie (F-BVFC) the last Air France Concorde that landed in Toulouse on Jun. 27, 2003. The two aircraft are parked side-by-side so you can easily esteem the different internal and external layouts. The F-WTSS prototype wears the “Eclipse Solaire 1973” badge that recalls the historic solar eclipse of Jun. 30, 1973, an event that seven scientists were able to follow for 74 minutes from inside a Concorde fitted as a flying laboratory that, taking off from Las Palmas, Canaries, for the special flight flew within the dark area at supersonic speed at 17.000 meters above Mauritania, before landing in Fort-Lamy (N’Djamena), Chad.
Other interesting aircraft are the German F-104G Starfighter, the Mirage IV, the DC-8 SARIGUE “F-RAFE” used for electronic warfare, the Dassault Super Etendard Modernisé SEM 64, the SAAB J-35A Draken, the Russian Mig-23ML “26” and all the prototypes displayed: the Super Mirage 4000, the Rafale A, the Griffon II and III,
the Mirage III V-01, the LEDUC 010 and the Mirage G8-01. Anyway, the collection is huge and there are so many interesting examples that I suggest you having a look at the following site for a complete list: http://www.aviationmuseum.eu/World/Europe/France/Paris-Le_Bourget/Musee_de_l_air.htm (beware, serials/codes are not correctly aligned with the aircraft type!).
I organized my trip to the museum during Aéropuces 2010, an annual event (hosted in the Concorde hall, as the pictures show) for buying, selling, trading aviation items: models, books, magazines, patches, aviation art, military and civil aircraft parts (control sticks, ejection seats, rudders, panels, cockpit instruments, blades, etc.), flight gear, and everything you might be interesting in collecting.
For more details about the collection, the Museum and the related events, I suggest you visiting the official Musée de l’Air et de l’Espace Paris website that cointains plenty of information (in French language only!).








































































The pictures above were taken by both me and Giovanni Maduli.