A fighter pilot joins The Aviationist’s team: welcome on board “Gonzo”!

We have a new writer. A Fighter Jock, an Instructor Pilot, an Aggressor, with 3,000 flying hours and actual combat experience. Be ready for some really cool stories.

I met Alessandro “Gonzo” Olivares for the first time two years ago, at Lecce airbase. He was the Commander of the 212° Gruppo (Squadron), the first Italian Air Force Squadron to receive the world’s most advanced jet trainer, and one of the very first and few IPs (Instructor Pilots) on the M-346 “Master” (T-346A according to the Italian designation).

I had the unbelievable opportunity to become the very first journalist to fly in an ItAF Master and “Gonzo” sit in the front seat during a memorable training mission during which I discovered how modern LIFT (Lead-In Fighter Training) prepares young pilots for 4+ and 5 gen. aircraft. During that mission, not only did Alessandro (or “Alex” as he’s often dubbed by his friends) demonstrate to own the skills needed to teach other pilots how to fly and fight in a modern combat plane but he also proved to have an outstanding ability to transfer knowledge to other aviation geeks. Needless to say, we became friends and I immediately thought he could be a perfect addition to our editorial team.

“Gonzo” has about 3,000 FH. He has taken part in real operations in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Libya flying the Tornado.

Alex has some 3,000 FH. He’s flown the Tornado in the fighter bomber role for more than a decade, becoming also a “Tonka” IP, taking part in several exercises such the Red Flag, the Alaskan Flag, the Joint Maritime Course, the Anatolian Eagle and the TLP (Tactical Leadership Programme) that he’s attended also as part of the Aggressors team with the T-346.

He has taken part in real operations as well, flying over Kosovo and Afghanistan, and over Libya during the 2011’s Air War.

“I was lucky enough to fly high-performance aircraft, to take part in real operations and, above all, to train other pilots on the Tornado as an OCU (Operational Conversion Unit) IP and, later in my career, on the futuristic T-346 trainer.”

Alex during a mock dogfight. Notice The Aviationist patch on his shoulder!

As you may imagine, with such a background, “Gonzo” brings some really unique know-how to this site.

“I was a long time reader of The Aviationist, one of the world’s most read and reputable military aviation blogs. But I didn’t think I would ever become part of the team! For sure, it all started once I met David at Lecce: I was struck by his competency  and, in a matter of a few hours, I forgot he was a journalist and talked to him as I did with my colleagues and soon discovered that we shared the same passion. And now I’m here to share my stories and experience with the readers of The Aviationist from all around the world.”

In his spare time, Alex loves skiing, mountain bike riding, scuba diving, sailing and cooking.

Please join me in welcoming Alessandro “Gonzo” Olivares to The Aviationist and wishing him every success in his new role as a writer.

The Author and Alessandro Olivares after the flight aboard the T-346 Master in April 2015.
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.